Farmers make their living from the land and want to protect the soil from environmental factors. When the soil is covered by plant material, the risk of erosion is greatly reduced.
In the Midwest, corn is planted in the spring. It grows quickly and provides a canopy for the soil and then it’s harvested for its grain in the fall. One of the ways farmers protect the soil after harvest is to plant another crop. Known as a “cover crop,” it adds organic matter and holds the soil in place.
Fourth-generation Iowa farmer Mark Mueller has been planting cover crops for more than a decade and is seeing improvements to his soil. “Cover crops keep the soil in place, and in the long run, I know they are contributing to healthier soil and better water quality for all Iowans,” he said.
The “greening of Iowa”
You will notice cover crops in the fall, but also be on the lookout for them in the spring before farmers begin planting. Like your lawn, most cover crops grow quickly in the spring and protect the soil from heavy spring rains.
Mark Mueller farms in Bremer County and plants cover crops to improve the soil and protect Iowa’s water.
Farmers don’t sell the cover crop, but if they have livestock, it provides an economical source of feed.
The longer a field is covered by plant material, the better protected the soil is from erosion. That’s good for the soil and good for Iowa’s water.
Cover crops are just one of the many ways Iowa’s farmers are investing in the soil to protect the water we share from erosion. Click here to learn about other conservation practices farmers use to protect the soil and the water.