Researching the economics of cover crops

cover crops-cereal rye-plantcovercropsA Purdue University agricultural economics professor is taking a closer look at the economics of planting cover cropping systems.

Wally Tyner says farmers tell him one of the biggest reasons they don’t adopt conservation practices is the lack of information about the return on investment.

Through a Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Purdue University along with Farm Foundation, NFP are launching a three-year research program that compares farms that utilize cover crops and those that don’t.  “We think we’ll be able to see if there is differences in yields,” he says.  “See if there is differences in a dry year versus a wet year.  We’ll be able to answer questions we’ve never been able answer about cover crops before.”

He tells Brownfield there is a plethora of information about the environmental and soil-health benefits of using cover crops but information about the economics of using them is limited.  “There isn’t information about does it pay to do cover crops,” he says.  “If you’re going to spend $30 to $40 an acre to do a cover crop are your benefits greater than that.  As an economist I was shocked that we don’t know!”

Tyner says they’re looking for farmers in 37 of Indiana’s counties that plant a corn-on-corn or a corn-soybean rotation.  In addition, he says five fields will be targeted on each farm.

To be part of the study, a farming operation must be in one of 37 Indiana counties:
Adams, Allen (western), Benton, Blackford, Boone, Carroll, Clinton, Decatur, DeKalb, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Howard, Huntington, Jay, Johnson, Madison, Marion, Miami, Montgomery, Morgan, Noble, Putnam, Randolph, Rush, Shelby, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Union, Wabash, Wayne, Wells, and Whitley.  To inquire about participating in the study, farmers should contact Wally Tyner at Purdue University.

AUDIO: Wally Tyner, Purdue University

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