A new survey shows that cover crop usage by farmers is on the upswing. The survey is the work of the Conservation and Technology Information Center and USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.

“We did it because we wanted to see what was happening with cover crops and their impacts during such a dry year of 2012,” says Rob Myers, a University of Missouri agronomist and regional director of Extension programs for North Central Region SARE.

Among the findings that were “mild” surprises, says Myers, was the significance of yield impacts after cover crop adoption. “Those yield differences were certainly greater than we expected. The fact that the yield difference was larger in the driest states was a surprise.

“Overall, we knew that cover crops were likely to help in dry conditions. That’s because of their ability to promote deeper rooting for corn and soybeans and provide a residue blanket on the soil.”

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