Can't Plant? Put Your Empty Fields To Good Use

Iowa Farm Scene

Cover crops and conservation practice construction can be an option for farmers unable to plant corn or soybeans this spring.

Published on: June 17, 2013

One option is to leave "prevented planting" land idle, but establishing a cover crop on it would provide many benefits

The final planting date for full crop insurance coverage in Iowa for corn is May 31 and for soybeans is June 15, notes Northey. After these dates farmers have several options, one being to leave the land idle. Planting a cover crop in this case can help prevent erosion and the cover crop ties up the nutrients in the soil, which reduces the potential for nitrate and phosphorus to move into the state's rivers, lakes and streams.

Farmers unable to grow a crop this year may also want to consider building additional conservation practices on the impacted land, and conservation cost-share funds are available to help. These practices can be built this year during the growing season without impacting a growing crop. Farmers can work with their local USDA Service Center and local Soil and Water Conservation District to find out more information about establishing cover crops, conservation practice construction and the availability of cost-share funding.

New NRCS fact sheet offers helpful guidelines for planting cover crops

In addition, Iowa's USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service recently developed a fact sheet for planting cover crops on prevented planting fields. The NRCS fact sheet includes a table listing diverse cover crop mixes to address specific natural resource concerns. This fact sheet is available in the "Agronomy" section of their website or at your local NRCS office.

Farmers seeking more information about their crop insurance options should contact their local insurance provider or the USDA Risk Management Agency's St. Paul regional office at 651-290-3304, by email rsomn@rma.usda.gov, or online.