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Now is the Time for Farmers to Go “Green”

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September 29, 2008

Maxwell, IA – Corn and soybean fields across Iowa are turning from green to brown, indicating they are ready for harvest, but now is also the time for farmers to plant a new crop. Bruce Carney is a Maxwell area farmer who sows a cover crop of rye every year at this time--by air.

"I've flown rye on with an airplane for the last four or five years on standing corn, for a couple different reasons. One, you get ground cover for the winter. And you also get some early spring grazing out of it."

Carney says other environmental benefits of putting in a cover crop include reducing the need for herbicides in the spring and controlling soil erosion.

"Your rye is already going to be established, and it's going to hold the soil where it is. Then you've got the competition against weeds in the spring, when they're wanting to come up."

In addition, he says, cover crops can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loss and eventually improve soil quality. When farmers tell him they don't have time in the fall to put in a cover crop, Carney suggests using local aerial services, which can switch over from spraying herbicides to putting down seed. He also says farmers can plant with minimal effort by using a small grain drill.

Dick Layman/Steve Powers, Public News Service - IA