If you want to plant a cover crop this fall and be eligible to participate in the state's cost-share program, you can still do that. The deadline for seeding winter-hardy cover crops to protect the soil from erosion over the winter has been extended until Nov. 1 in northern Iowa and Nov. 15 in southern Iowa.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, along with Richard Ellsmore, acting state conservationist with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Iowa, announced on October 15 that the planting deadline for cover crops for farmers participating in state cost-share programs and most federal financial assistance programs has been extended.
"We have seen significant growth in both the number of farmers using cover crops and number of acres that they are used on," says Northey. "There are an estimated 236,000 acres of cover crops supported by just the state cost share programs. Some corn and soybean crops were delayed in planting because of wet weather this spring, and now the extension for cover crop planting this fall will help farmers still be able to use this important water quality protection practice even if their corn or soybean harvest is delayed."
Follow the rules for planting cover crops in the fall
Farmers intending to plant wintery hardy cover crops that are north of Highway 20 in Iowa now have until November 1, 2015 to get the cover crops planted. Farmers south of Highway 20 now have until November 15 to plant and still qualify for assistance.
The following information applies to cover crops planted during the extension period (October 16 to November 1 north of Highway 20 and October 16 to November 15 south of Highway 20):
•Cover crops will be seeded as soon as possible after harvest of the principal cash crop such as corn or soybeans.
•The cover crop to be seeded must be winter hardy (i.e. cereal rye, winter wheat, triticale).
•The cover crop will be no-till drilled in crop residue.
•Allow the cover crop to add growth as long as possible in the spring prior to termination to maximize benefits. The cover crop must be allowed to grow until it is at least 6 inches tall for farmers participating in federal programs.
•The extension does not apply for all federal programs. Contact your NRCS office if you have questions.
Farmers approved for cost-share assistance who are still unable to plant cover crops, even with this deadline extension, should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) office.
For questions on the extension of the seeding date for state funded programs such as the Iowa Financial Incentive Program (IFIP) or the Water Quality Incentive (WQI) Program, contact the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship at 515-281-5851. For questions on the extension of the seeding date for federal funded programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) or the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), contact Barbara Stewart, state agronomist for NRCS at 515-323-2260.
Kurt Simon is named new chief of NRCS in Iowa
In other conservation news, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey issued the following statement on October 15 regarding USDA's announcement of Kurt Simon as the new NRCS State Conservationist for Iowa. USDA's press release on the appointment of Simon and a grant announcement from USDA of $3 million to expand wetlands enhancements in Iowa can be found here.
Here's Northey's statement: "The Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship works hand-in-hand with USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service and I'm excited to welcome Kurt Simon to Iowa. NRCS and the 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state continue to work together collaboratively to implement the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. During the last fiscal year the Iowa Department of Agriculture and NRCS invested more than $51 million in conservation and water quality efforts in the state. We all recognize we have more work to do on conservation and water quality and I'm excited for Kurt to come onboard and continue to strengthen the relationship between our two agencies."