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Are cover crops being used in the US corn belt

Singer, J.W., Nusser, S.M., Alf, C.J.
Journal of soil and water conservation 2007 v.62 no.5 pp. 353-358
cover crops, surveys, species diversity, planting date, soil erosion, erosion control, soil organic matter, awards, Corn Belt region, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota
The benefits of using cover crops are well established, but adoption in agronomic farming systems is unknown. The objectives of this study were to quantify cover crop use and identify factors associated with their adoption. A mail survey was sent to 3,500 farmers in the US corn belt (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Minnesota) to quantify farming practices and cover crop use. An estimated 18% of farmers have used cover crops, including 11% who planted cover crops sometime in the last five years, and 8% who planted cover crops in the fall of 2005. In the fall of 2005, farmers who used cover crops planted them on 6% of the land area for the average size farm. Logistic regression results indicated that crop diversity in a farm operation was the most consistent and important factor related to the use of cover crops. Corn belt farmers believe that cover crops are most effective at reducing soil erosion (96%) and increasing soil organic matter (74%). Approximately 56% of farmers indicated that they would plant cover crops if cost-sharing was available. The mean minimum payment required as an incentive to plant cover crops would be approximately $56.81 ha-1 ($23 ac-1).