Taking a Look at Cover Crops
Many people have heard of cover crops, but may not familiar with the specifics. To help get the word out about what cover crops can do for farmers and the land, the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Prior Lake Spring Lake Watershed District held a cover crop field day early this November.
The first stop was a field run by Vern Wick. In late September, he rented a no-till drill from the Scott SWCD to seed cover crops on 100 acres. He planted a mixture of cereal rye, radish, and turnips with the goals of improving soil health, nutrient recycling, and nitrogen fixation.
The second stop was a field run by Joe Hentges. In September, he had 100 acres aerial seeded into cover crops by helicopter. Joe found that the aerial seeding worked well for him because he did not have to take as much time out of his busy schedule to get his cover crops in the ground.
On both farms, soil samples were taken before cover crops were planted, so they can see exactly how cover crops are changing the soil. They will also look at future yields on these fields as antidotal evidence of additional benefits of cover crops. Once these producers have a few years of cover crop evidence and experience, they can share that knowledge with neighbors and friends. With this knowledge in hand, other producers in Scott County may just start using cover crops as well.
There are currently incentives available for planting cover crops in Scott County through the Scott SWCD, Prior Lake Spring Lake Watershed District, and the Scott Watershed Management Organization, so now is the time to look into it. If you are interested in learning more about these incentives or have questions about how cover crops can work for you, contact the Scott SWCD office at 952-492-5425. We can provide resources and help sign you up for an incentive program.