As more farmers realize the numerous cover crop benefits for building soil organic matter, cutting erosion and helping keep nutrients in the field, their next goal becomes achieving a good stand without impeding harvest – while abiding by crop insurance rules.
The good news is that crop insurance rules are in place to allow the early Interseeding of cover crops. And we’re not talking about August/September timing. Some farmers succeed at seeding covers when they sidedress nitrogen – without losing yield.
Check out this story “Interseed learning curve” where we focus on a northeast Iowa farmer working to perfect his cover crop seeding when he sidedresses. Also, learn from three Minnesota farmers who achieve great benefits from early seeded cover crops in this story “Can seeding cover crops at sidedress work?”
When I spoke to USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) Director Duane Voy this week, he stated how far crop insurance has come in the last few years “to remove barriers for farmers to use cover crops, as long as they don’t damage the insured cash crop.”
He cited past removal of barriers like haying and grazing cover crops over winter (as long as spring termination guidelines are followed); improved later cover crop termination (right before, at or after planting, depending on your geographic zone – see map); and earlier interseeding of cover crops (like described above). Read through the resource links below as they answer most questions.
Voy says it’s always advisable to talk to your crop insurance agent to insure their policy follows RMA and USDA cover crop guidelines. Discus all available options to verify plans that follow good farming practices and meet crop insurance requirements.
Let us know your cover crop story. Write to me at email@example.com.
Current USDA RMA fact sheet (PDF): Cover Crops and Crop Insurance
Current USDA RMA Cover Crops fact sheet for Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin (and other Midwest states)
Current USDA RMA Frequestly Asked Questions: Cover Crops Crop Insurance and NRCS Cover Crop Termination Guidelines (updated for 2017)
Current USDA NRCS Cover Crop Termination Guidelines (PDF)