Illinois cover crop initiative set to take applications

A new cover crop initiative for Illinois growers is opening Wednesday for applications.

The American Farmland Trust is opening the Illinois Cover Crop Initiative for farmers to enroll 75,000 acres for cover crops this fall. AFT’s Midwest Regional Director Kris Reynolds tells Brownfield the program is offering Illinois farmers $10 an acre to enroll.

“If a farmer has been doing cover crops in the past, they’re still eligible for this incentive,” Reynolds said. “You’re also able to stack this $10 per acre incentive with other eligible public programs.”

He says that includes programs like EQIP or Conservation Stewardship Program through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and crop insurance related programs; but it’s not stackable with private conservation programs including specific carbon markets.

Reynolds said AFT will work with farmers through the initiative to meet their goals, which could mean using varied cover crops.

“Are they looking to reduce soil erosion, are they looking to reduce nutrient loss, or are they looking to manage weeds,” he said.

He said soil health and water quality could also be reasons farmers plant cover crops.

Reynolds said applications are considered on a first come first serve basis with a waiting list after slots are filled. He said AFT hopes to expand the program in the future.

The AFT Illinois program is part of a $2.6 million grant covering six states – including Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Indiana – that have similar programs. AFT is partnering with ADM, NRCS, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Farmers Business Network to offer the cover crop initiative.

Applications can be found on AFT’s website.

Kris Reynolds Interview

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