Indiana farmers planted over 1 million acres of cover crops last fall, but the floods of this spring that drowned many corn and soybean fields may present an opportunity to plant even more cover crops. State Conservationist Jane Hardisty said, if the crop has been washed out or is dead, cover crops should be considered, “If they can’t put a crop on that ground, then a cover crop can not only prevent soil loss but help build up that soil, help break up compaction, and rebuild nutrients in the soil.” She told HAT that having a cover crop on this flood-damaged ground will be a real plus for next year’s crop.
Hardisty is urging growers who have not considered cover crops in the past to give some serious consideration to planting something on the land that has been impacted by the heavy rains and flood waters, “That soil is eroding because there is not much residue on the ground, and now there is no crop canopy to keep these rains from doing even more damage. We have some bare ground out there that I am really concerned about.” She added that there are many resources available for growers who want to give cover crops a try.
For example, the NRCS has a special seed calculator to help growers determine what they need and how much to plant. Hardisty said the tool will tell growers what kind of cover crops to use depending on if they want a cover just until fall or until next spring, “We can help determine what kind of seed mix they might need.” She added that local field offices can provide recommendations after taking a look at the fields in question.
There is more information and technical assistance available at your local NRCS field office.