Making an investment in soil health

Missouri farmers took a closer look at cover crops at a field day hosted by Missouri Soybeans.

A guest speaker, Indiana farmer and the CEO of Constant Canopy Jason Mauck, told farmers if they’re new to cover crops to try a lot of different things. 

“You can learn 10 years of knowledge by doing a lot of things small and cheap. Then, you can progress to where you want to be quicker that way.”

Mauck has spent the last six years experimenting with cover crops. He is known for relay cropping.

“Instead of planting a cover crop and terminating with a herbicide, we plant a cereal like wheat, rye or barley into wider rows. That empowers plant yield so we can get nearly the same yield in 60 inch rows. That allows the space to plant soybeans early, they get enough light to grow well and then, we can use the cereal for pattern tile.”

Mauck told Brownfield there’s still a long way to go with cover crop adoption across the Midwest, but pain can be a powerful teacher.

“If you’re fortunate enough to have five foot of topsoil and it rains 50 inches and you have crop insurance that backs it up, you might not have encountered pain,” he says. “But if you’re in the Dakotas moving west, going from 40 inches of rain to 20 inches, it’s very important to keep the soil covered or you won’t have a crop.”

In Missouri, Soil Health Professor Jordon Wade said about 30% to 40% of farms are incorporating cover crops and there is cover crop research happening at the University of Missouri.

Hear our interview with Mauck.

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