The Iowa Cover Crops Working Group is part of the Midwest Cover Crops Council, which is a working group affiliated with Green Lands, Blue Waters. The mission of the MCCC is to significantly increase the amount of continuous living cover on the Upper Midwestern agricultural landscape.
Iowa team leaders are Sarah Carlson (Practical Farmers of Iowa) and Tom Kaspar (USDA-ARS).
The short-term goals of the Iowa Cover Crops Working Group:
- Identify priorities and barriers to implementation of cover crops
- Design and establish mechanisms of communication
- Exchange cross-regional learning and innovation
- Provide a unified voice from academy, non-profit and industry sectors about the importance of cover crops and related innovations such as green manures
- Improve availability of funding to research these systems
- Offer a coordinated effort to use cover crops in systems
- Generate supportive policy at local, state and federal levels
As part of the MCCC, the long-term goals:
- Improve productivity and quality of crops, including vegetables, perennials, corn, soybeans, small grains, food grains, forages, biofuels, industrial uses, ornamentals, and multi-purpose crops by integrating cover crops into the systems
- Create reasonable cost of establishment
- Develop new plant materials
- Produce adequate seed supply
- Ensure availability and feasibility of technology and equipment
- Better integrate ecologies, economies and stewardship practices of urban and rural communities
- Facilitate policy change to support these aims
- Cover Crops for Sustainable Crop Rotations Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) primer about cover crop selection, management, economics, establishment, soil fertility rotations and pests.
- National Forum on Cover Crops and Soil Health, February 2014 by the USDA's SARE program. Much of the information is archived on the conference web page.
- Practices to Improve Water Quality document highlights 11 conservation practices, including cover crops
- Cover Crop Business Directory lists sources in Iowa for seed, custom spraying and aerial application and equipment.
- Attitudes Toward Cover Crops in Iowa: Benefits and Barriers, March 2012 report of Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll survey data
- North Central Region SARE 2013-2014 Cover Crops Survey Analysis results shows nearly 10 percent yield gain in corn with cover crops during drought; more than 11 percent gain in soybeans with cover crops.
- Managing Cover Crops Profitably, 3rd Edition, Guide published by the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program (free download)
- Overview of Cover Crops and Green Manures, Publication of the NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Project (free download)
- Small Grain Cover Crops for Corn and Soybean, ISU Extension PM 1999
- Intercropping Winter Cereal Grains and Red Clover PM 2025, Iowa State University Extension publication
- Dealing with Drought Webinar Q&A [PDF], Answers to questions from presenters from August 20, 2012 CropLife Media Group Webinar
- Under Cover Farmers video on YouTube- NRCS soil scientist Ray Archuleta talks to farmers about multi-species cover crops
- Adding Cover Crops to a Corn-Soybean Operation, Iowa Learning Farms video on YouTube
- Cover Crops: Farmer Perspectives, Iowa Learning Farms video on YouTube