Grant aids cover crops
Washington County farmer Jim Cuddeback didn’t know Washington County received $93,000 in grant money from the state for water quality practices in farming before he decided to plant a cover crop on his farm this fall.
In August he visited with Tony Maxwell from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with questions he had about cover crops. After he spoke with Maxwell, Teresa Munn, secretary at NRCS, called him informing him of the grant and he decided to apply for it.
“I chose rye because it is supposed to be the easiest to work with and establish,” Cuddeback said.
The grant is for farmers who are using a specific water quality practice on their farm for the first time, the press release from the Iowa Department of Agriculture Secretary Jim Northey said. It is also available for farmers who are using nitrogen inhibitors and no till on their farms. Washington County has received $93,000 from a $2.8 million grant for voluntary water quality practices on farmland this fall.
There are other plants farmers could use as cover crops, Cuddeback said. Forage radishes and oats are other examples of cover crops he gave.
Cuddeback will be paid $25 per acre of cover crops, with a limit of 160 acres, he said. He chose to plant 240 acres because the benefits from the cover crops will outweigh the costs. He gave three reasons for choosing to plant a cover crop on his farm.
“The last two springs we’ve had a lot of rain and a lot of soil erosion,” Cuddeback said. “I wanted to try planting cover crops in the fall to help prevent soil erosion. The second reason is because cover crops add to the organic matter in the soil. The third reason is cover crops help keep nitrogen in the soil and on the farm.”
He isn’t new to using water quality practices on his farm. He has used no till and nitrification inhibitors in the past and has seen the benefits from both.
“I’m sure I’ll use the no till again,” Cuddeback said. “No till definitely holds soil in place when there’s a lot of rain.”
He said he has seen nitrification inhibitors help to keep the nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is stable in the soil up until fifty degrees. After 50 degrees the soil begins to loose the nitrogen. The inhibitors are put on the soil in the fall when the temperatures drop after harvesting, Cuddeback said.
In the spring when the temperature rises about 50 degrees the inhibitors help keep the nitrogen in the soil to keep it from leaching out, Cuddeback said. It also keeps the nitrogen from flowing downstream in the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.
Cuddeback’s son, Jeff, also received grant money for planting a cover crop, he said. His son is planting 160 acres of rye this fall.