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Cover crop acres increasing in the US

Cover crop acres are increasing in the US and a cover crop expert says he expects that trend to continue.

The USDA’s 2017 Census of Ag data shows cover crops were planted on more than 15 million acres in 2017, an increase of 50% in five years.

Jerry Hatfield with the with National Laboratory for ag and the Environment in Ames, Iowa says more farmers are realizing the benefits of cover crop systems.

“Reduced erosion, taking that nitrogen up, all of those different things are now beginning to be advantageous to them and they are recognizing that there is a benefit to having cover on their land throughout the whole year.”

He tells Brownfield with more producers experimenting with cover crops and more educational opportunities available, he expects cover crop acres to increase again in the 2022 ag census.

The 2012 and 2017 census results showed increases in acres planted to cover crops in multiple states including Iowa, which led the way with a 156% increase in the five year period. Iowa farmers planted more than 970,000 acres in 2017, up more than 590,000 acres from 2012.

Illinois farmers more than doubled their cover crop acreage with nearly 710,000 acres planted in 2017. An increase of more than 390,000 acres from 2012. 

Indiana planted more than 930,000 acres of cover crops in 2017, up 340,000 from 2012.

Ohio farmers more than doubled their cover crop acreage with nearly 720,000 acres planted in 2017, up by nearly 360,000 acres from 2012.

Missouri more than doubled cover crop acreage with more than 840,000 acres planted in 2017, up 450,000 acres from 2012.

Nebraska more than doubled cover crop acreage with nearly 750,000 acres planted in 20127, up more than 390,000 acres from 2012.

Wisconsin planted over 610,000 acres in 2017, up nearly 60,000 acres from 2012.

Minnesota planted nearly 580,000 acres in 2017, up more than 170,000 acres from 2012.

Michigan planted more than 670,000 acres in 2017, up more than 235,000 acres from 2012.

South Dakota planted more than 280,000 acres in 2017, up more than 130,000 acres from 2012.

Interview with Jerry Hatfield

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