Hometown Farmer: Cover Crop Conservation - Siouxland News - KMEG 14 and FOX 44

Hometown Farmer: Cover Crop Conservation

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Even the fields are feeling festive this holiday season!

"You don't expect your fields to have a green tint to them," said Bruce Willems, a farmer who lives near Correctionville, Iowa.

The green you see in his field is a blanket of cover crops. It's cereal rye, a plant that flourishes in cold weather.

But for the whole story here, we need to go back in time, before the corn and beans even came out of the field.

When the plants were flown on, or at least flown over. The crops were applied when the corn and beans were still standing.

And the numbers are pretty incredible: 3,200 acres of cover crops were applied in Woodbury County alone.

In 2013, the state of Iowa helped cover the costs of applying cover crops for some first time farmers.

Jerry Sindt, with the Natural Resources Conservation Service office, says the program was a success.

"It just kept growing," said Sindt. "We ran out of money and we still had producers interested."

Some farmers didn't just put down rye, like Bruce, others also flew on radishes.

Both plants are meant to stop erosion and keep unused nitrates right where they are: in the ground and not in the groundwater.

"Since we don't harvest that plant any material that was growing, the roots and the vegetation on the top, all goes back into the soil, into the system," said Sindt. "So that nitrate is still available."

Back near Correctionville, Bruce says the rye is growing pretty well.

He admits it's coming up better in the bean ground than where it was flown into the corn, but he says as long as it keeps the soil put, he'll be happy.

It cost just under $40 an acre to fly rye on like Bruce did, and the farmer will have to kill the plants in the spring.

If you know of any farmers you think would be great on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jake.

His email address is: jheller@siouxlandnews.com

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