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Nearly 60 percent of farmers surveyed are planting cover crops

The latest Ag Economy Barometer suggests farmer usage of cover crops is increasing.

Jim Mintert, director of the Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture, says he was a little surprised by how many farmers said they are planting cover crops.

“Fifty-seven percent of the people surveyed are planting cover crops on a least a portion of their acreage,” he says. “Many of those people are planting them on a relatively small percentage of their acreage. I think the most common response there was that they were planting them on less than 25 percent of their farm acreage.”

One fourth of respondents said they plant cover crops on more than 50 percent of their farm.

Of the farmers planting cover crops, Mintert says “forty percent of producers have been planting cover crops for five years or less. So these are folks that have been encouraged to try cover crops and are doing so and trying to get some experience. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a small percentage of people that have been planting cover crops for a very long time. Ten percent of the people that plant cover crops said that they’ve been planting them for 20 years. We’ve got some diversity there, but there’s a lot of folks that are still trying to get their feet wet with cover crops and it showed up on our survey.”

Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents said they have been planting cover crops for more than 10 years.

Reasons cited by producers for planting cover crops include improve soil health at nearly 40 percent and improve soil erosion at more than 30 percent. Just five percent of cover crop users said carbon sequestration was a motivation for planting cover crops.

The Purdue University/CME Group is a monthly national survey of 400 U.S. agricultural producers.

Audio: Jim Mintert

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