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Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

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Advice to SD Farmers: Take Cover

PHOTO: Fallow season in South Dakota could turn into growing season. New reports from the National Wildlife Federation encourage producers to think about cover crops for in-between seasons. Photo courtesy NWF.
PHOTO: Fallow season in South Dakota could turn into growing season. New reports from the National Wildlife Federation encourage producers to think about cover crops for in-between seasons. Photo courtesy NWF.
October 1, 2013

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Fallow season in South Dakota could turn into growing season. A pair of new reports from the National Wildlife Federation encourage producers to think about cover crops for in-between seasons. Report author Lara Bryant, agriculture program coordinator for the NWF, makes the case that cover crops provide wins all the way around, including for farmers' bottom lines, and although they are growing in popularity, they're still not common in South Dakota.

"They keep the nutrients on the ground and out of streams," Bryant said. "They improve the quality of the soil, so over time, you'll see improved yields in the crops. And they also sequester a lot of carbon."

Cover crops can be a variety of plants, such as clover, oats, radishes and ryes: choices depend on seed availability and cash crop rotation, as well as climate and management requirements.

Bryant noted that in Iowa, cover crops are encouraged under a state plan to help reduce nutrient runoff into streams and rivers, and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Something similar could be in South Dakota's future.

"With all the new cropland being broken out in South Dakota, it's more important than ever for farmers to use cover crops to keep their soil on the fields and out of streams," she advised. "And our report provides examples of how local groups can get more cover crops on the ground in South Dakota."

In some areas of the country, water treatment facilities are paying farmers to sow cover crops because they help keep phosphorus from running off the land and into those facilities.

The reports, "Counting Cover Crops," and "Clean Water Grows," are at NWF.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - SD