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News Release

Special Funding Available for Winter Hardy Cover Crops

Wells Dairy operation in southeast Iowa planted winter hardy cover crops in 2009.

Des Moines, IA, July 8 — Farmers in 29 north central Iowa counties must apply by Aug. 1 to receive special financial assistance for planting winter hardy cover crops. This year $200,000 is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for farmers to plant winter hardy cover crops this late summer or early fall.

Farmers will receive a higher payment rate through this special funding. They may also apply to receive up to three years of payments for planting winter hardy cover crops.

The following counties are included in this special funding: all of Boone, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Emmet, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Humboldt, Kossuth, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Story, Webster, Winnebago, and Wright counties; and parts of Carroll, Cerro Gordo, Clay, Dallas, Dickinson, Franklin, Guthrie, Hardin, Jasper, Marshall, Osceola, Polk, Sac, and Worth counties.

Winter hardy cover crops include cereal rye, winter wheat, triticale, hairy vetch, red clover and sweet clover. Cover crops help reduce soil erosion, limit nitrogen leaching, suppress weeds, increase soil organic matter and improve overall soil quality. Small grain cover crops increase surface cover, anchor corn and soybean residues, increase water infiltration and reduce erosion.

In addition to the environmental and soil quality benefits, several cover crops are suitable for grazing by livestock or wildlife, according to Barb Stewart, state agronomist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Des Moines, Iowa.

"Like most farm management issues, timing is a critical concern for cover crop management. Producers must plant early enough in the fall to allow for good establishment before winter, but also must kill winter hardy cover crops soon enough to prevent potential yield reduction in the following crop," says Stewart.

For more information visit your local NRCS office in the participating counties.

Contact:Paul Goldsmith, EQIP Coordinator, USDA-NRCS
Phone: 515-284-4353