Studies have shown that cover crops can be an effective tool for nutrient management, soil health and water quality, while also improving farm profitability. In fact, during the fall of 2012, corn planted after cover crops had a 9.6 percent increase in yield compared to side-by-side fields with no cover crops. Likewise, soybean yields were improved 11.6 percent following cover crops.
Illinois Corn, through a partnership with the Council on Best Management Practices, continues to learn more about the power of cover crops and other site-specific technologies to improve farm profitability and environmental quality through their work in the Lake Springfield Watershed.
CBMP has established relationships with fertilizer retailers and farmers in the Lake Springfield watershed. Those area leaders are now engaging in cover crop trials, N-watch soil sampling, and in replicated nitrogen trials on rate and timing to show the advantages of moving nitrogen closer to the time the corn needs it.
The cover crop program alone now consists of 12 farmers and 504 acres, who have chosen the right cover crop seed for their acres and received sound advice on managing the cover crop from fall seeding into the spring.
Nitrogen soil sampling, rainfall data collection, and water monitoring are also a part of the trials.
IL Corn hopes to encourage lawmakers and the Environmental Protection Agency that farmers can change practices and proactively address nutrient runoff situations when they occur.
Farmers in the Lake Springfield Watershed are encouraged to learn more at a “Focus on Stewardship” seminar, held on February 6 from 8:30 – 11:30 am at the Northfield Conference Center in Springfield. There is no fee to participate in this meeting, but pre-registration is required. Breakfast pastries and lunch are provided. Click here or visit www.illinoiscbmp.org to register.