Improving Soil Through Cover Crops

– In Pennsylvania, 60% of our crop land is
highly erodible land. And so, it is important to
take soil erosion seriously. – The soil is our livelihood, and we don’t wanna see
it leaving our farm. We’re farming around 700
acres, 450-500 of that is corn, and the rest is soybeans
that are double cropped in back of the wheat and barley. Much like Lancaster County, our
farm has rolling topography, and I remember one afternoon,
we had a thunderstorm that washed mud out on the road, and I could actually see some
of my freshly planted soybeans in with the mud. And I’d been no-tilling for a
long time, but at that point, I knew that what I was
doing was not adequate. – He wasn’t really using
cover crops at that time, so I told him we always want
to have living vegetation in the field, because research has shown that it helps to protect
the soil from erosion. Also, those roots help
to maintain the soil in a healthy state. He really took that. – For cover crops on my
farm, I primarily use wheat. In recent years, I’ve
been adding some canola, rapeseed, hairy vetch to diversify. Some of the pros and cons
of using cover crops, I guess a con would be the expense. You have to buy cover crop. And the first year you
do it, you might say, well, I had this seed
expense, I had to sow it, and then come spring,
now I have to kill it! The pros would be the fact that it helps with water management, nutrient management and insect management. And the pros far outweigh the cons. – Cover crops have
become quite widely used among dairy farmers, but with the vegetable
farmers and the grain farmers, it has been more of a challenge. Our SARE Project is focused on how do we stimulate vegetable
farmers and grain farmers to use cover crops more? Our project was really
focused on giving farmers who had not used cover crops before, the opportunity to use cover crops by donating some seed to them. – We actually were able to
distribute five bags of seed per farmer, to a number of farmers, and then hopefully they will like it. – And then we asked
them to fill out a form to share their observations with us, so we could use that
then again in outreach. – A farmer can sort of feel like, well, a farmer’s independent. A farmer likes to do his own thing. And sometimes, the farmer is not real wild about sharing what they’re
doing with other people, but the sharing part of
it is part of the process of becoming better farmers. – The unique role I think
SARE plays is its emphasis on outreach and impact. – I think Pennsylvania is one
of the largest in the nation that’s using the no-till and cover crops. – When I started in the year 2000, 20% of our planted acres was no-tilled, and today, it is 65%. I really attribute the
increased adoption of no-tillage and also now cover crops
to really that partnership amongst farmers, agribusinesses, USDA, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. If we can all work together,
we can accomplish a lot more than if we each do our own thing.

3 thoughts on “Improving Soil Through Cover Crops

  1. I have some difficulty with the translation: could someone explain the difference between Canola and Rapeseed? Thank you
    Stefano from Italy

  2. You corporate whores. Setting a slave trap is what your doing. It was you people that ridiculed people like us for decades. Now that your corporate masters are situated in a market we worked so hard to develop you wanna control it. You people are rat's.

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