SARE study again shows cover crops boost corn and soybeans yields

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program released results of a study April 3 that showed that cover crops continue to increase the yields of corn and soybeans.

The study was done by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and was completed by nearly 2,000 farmers during the winter of 2013-14. For the second consecutive year, the study demonstrated the benefits cover crops have for corn and soybean growers. The study also gave insights into the challenges of cover crops, the costs of seed and establishment and information about how farmers learn to manage cover crops.

Fields that had been planted with cover crops yielded an average of five more bushels of corn per acre, 3.1 percent more than fields that didn’t use cover crops. Soybean farmers who used cover crops saw their yields jump two bushels per acre, 4.3 percent higher than noncover crop farmers.

These increases were lower than those recorded in last year’s survey by SARE and CTIC, which saw improvements of 11.1 bushels (9 percent) in corn following cover crops and 4.9 bushels (10 percent) of soybeans after cover crops.

SARE North Central Regional Director and University of Missouri Agronomist Rob Myers said that much of the difference in yield impact may be due to the drought in 2012, which highlights the moisture-management benefits of cover crops.

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Conservation Technology Information Center Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

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