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Conservation Choices: Conservation Cover

Conservation Cover

Conservation CoverWhat it is

Establishing and maintaining permanent vegetative cover of either introduced or native grasses, legumes and forbs for nesting cover, winter cover, brood cover, pollinator habitat, and food for wildlife.

How it helps

  • Reduces soil erosion and sedimentation.
  • Improves water and air quality.
  • Enhances plant diversity.
  • Increases soil organic matter.
  • Improves soil health.
  • Manages plant pests.

Planning ahead

  • What type of wildlife or pollinators do you want to attract?
  • Are you prepared to take the land out of agricultural production to allow for cover to establish?

Tech Notes

  • Select plant species and cultivars based upon adaptation to site conditions, including moisture regime and landscape preference.
  • Plant a diverse species mix to promote biodiversity and meet the needs of the targeted wildlife species.
  • Tall fescue should not compose more than 10 percent of the mixture if the primary or secondary purpose is wildlife.
  • Control weeds during the establishment year to ensure the new permanent seeding survives.
  • A temporary cover may be needed to reduce potential weed and erosion problems.


  • Mow, burn, clip or use approved chemicals to maintain planned vegetative community.
  • Any mowing after seeding establishment, except for noxious weeds, will be done after Aug. 1 to protect nesting wildlife.
  • Do not mow an entire field annually.
  • Maintain levels of plant nutrients as necessary.

Iowa Practice Standard

Iowa Job Sheet