Practical Farmers of Iowa joined the Clean Water in Iowa Starts Here tour in early June to discuss the Cover Crop Business Accelerator Program, an initiative designed to expand the cover crop acres planted in the state.
"Cover crops are an important part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy," says Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "Programs like the Cover Crop Business Accelerator are helping to build the business and infrastructure we need to continue to expand cover crop acres across the state."
The Cover Crop Business Accelerator Program, developed by the Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa Soybean Association, was established in 2020 with 10 participating farmer-owned, cover crop-related businesses. Each farmer-business owner received guidance from a contractor to establish or update his or her business and marketing plan, and provide educational support for farmers using cover crops.
The project compensated producers with a per-acre financial incentive, and additional equipment purchases related to cover crop production funded by the Walton Family Foundation. During the first year of the program, these businesses helped farmers and landowners seed 8,307 acres of cover crops, and cover crop seed production increased by 1,918 acres. The program has expanded to include an additional 10 businesses in 2021.
"Cover crops are not just good business for water quality, but offer a huge opportunity for farmers to expand their family's farm business by adding a custom cover crop business," says Sarah Carlson, PFI strategic initiatives director. "To reach the goals of the nutrient reduction strategy of 13 million acres of cover crops or every other acre of corn-soybean ground in Iowa, we will need nearly 2,000 cover crop businesses."
The Cover Crop Business Accelerator Program aims to increase the number of cover crops planted in Iowa each year. Funding for the project is provided by the Walton Family Foundation.
For more information about how to expand or start a cover crop business, farmers should contact Heath Ellison, Iowa Soybean Association senior field services program manager, at 515-334-1045 or [email protected]. Farmers who are interested in planting cover crops can contact Sarah Carlson at [email protected] or visit cleanwateriowa.org for help getting started this fall.
Source: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, which is responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and its subsidiaries aren't responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.