Iowa Farmers talk Cover Crops!

Our 2020/21 Virtual Ag in the Classroom program focuses on a new topic each month. Students will explore water and soil health throughout the month of February.


The second grade lesson includes reading the book "Sleep Tight Farm," by Eugenie Doyle, making cover crop monsters and completing a review worksheet. The focus of our February lesson is to help students understand the purpose and methods of using cover crops to maintain soil and water integrity.

A cover crop is grown in the off season for the protection and enrichment of the soil. In Iowa, rye (grass grown as a grain) is one of the most popular cover crops because of its quick germination. The seed is sometimes flown on with an airplane while the main crop is still in the field. This gives the cover crop a chance to grow before the main crop is harvested, minimizing soil erosion. Other popular cover crops are radishes and red clover. Cattle can graze cover crops, too. This reduces the feed that may need to be supplied to cattle


Our lesson includes an interview with two Iowa farmers regarding their experience with cover crops. Meet Mike Jackson and Eric Fynaardt.


MIKE

Mike Jackson and his family live in Mahaska County where they farm corn, soybeans and pigs.

Do you plant cover crops? Yes

How many acres do you plant? 1700 acres (1 acre is about the size of a football field)

Why do you plant cover crops? Cover crops increase soil health and reduce erosion

What are the cons? More management and additional cost

What cover crop seeds do you plant? Cereal rye, wheat, radishes and different mixes

How do you plant the cover crop? With 10 inch spacing drill directly following harvest in the fall

What would you like students to know? Farmers use science and math daily


ERIC

Eric Fynaardt and his family live in Poweshiek County where they farm corn and soybeans.

Do you plant cover crops? Yes

How many acres do you plant? 1200 acres (1 acre is about the size of a football field)

Why plant cover crops? Cover crops help to build organic materials and prevent against erosion.

What are the cons? More management

What cover crop seeds do you plant? Rye

How do you plant the cash crop (corn or soybeans) into the rye? The planter has rollers to push the grass down.

What would you like students to know? We do all of our field prep in the fall when we plant the cover crop seed. This keeps the soil from having to be tilled in the spring.


Watch a classroom experiment with cover crops Cover crop experiment - YouTube


Interested in learning more? Download the complete lesson plan from our website! February | mysite (linncoag.com)


Email Morgan Hibbs at mhibbs@ifbf.org with questions or to learn more about our programs!

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