Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
Alec Amundson (right) farms with his brother-in-law Adam Norby (left), and three members of the senior generation – Randy, Steve and Dana Norby – near Osage in northern Iowa. Alec and family are dedicated to conservation: they began cover cropping about seven years ago and have been using reduced tillage and no-tillage since the 1980s.

Reaping the benefits of cover crops and no-till: Alec notes that no-till and cover cropping aren’t just about conservation for their farm; they’ve seen improvements in their soil and crops. “I’ve noticed that on the hilltops where we’ve been no-tilling and using cover crops, we don’t have the same burn off that some of the neighbors do on their hilltops.” He also says that having a green crop in the late fall gives them some flexibility on being able to apply poultry manure when other farms can’t.

Cover crop seeding rates and dates: Their farm typically flies cereal rye into standing corn going to beans at a rate of 55 pounds per acre. When drilling cereal rye after harvesting beans going into corn, they will use between 45 and 55 pounds per acre. Alec said they’ll increase their rates if they’re drilling later to get a better stand. “We want to get a good stand of rye still, so we’ll increase rates a bit if we’re harvesting late.” Since it costs more to use more seed, the sooner you can get cover crops planted, the better.

Alec’s tips and tricks: When asked what resources he uses for decision-making on cover crops, Alec stated that Twitter has been a great resource for him and that his uncle Dana Norby has been participating in Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Cooperators Program on-farm research. 

Alec advises folks who are new to cover crops to get cover crops seeded as early as possible for the best results and to not be afraid to be experimental. 

First year results from Alec and Dana’s field trials will be included the Cooperators Program’s study on cover crop seeding rate by date effect on biomass production and crop yield -- stay tuned!
If you're seeding cereal rye, what rate are you seeding at this year?
Less than 35 pounds per acre
35-45 pounds per acre
45-55 pounds per acre
I will adjust my seeding rate based on my seeding date
I'm not seeding cereal rye this year
Previous poll results:
How has the wet spring affected your harvest and cover crop plans?
  • We're harvesting and planting cover crops 1-2 weeks later than normal - 64.3%
  • No difference from previous years - 35.7%
  • We're harvesting and planting cover crops 3+ weeks later than normal - 0%
Unsure about your cover crop seeding rate? Check out PFI’s short guide on what rates to use depending on seeding date.
First year results from a study in the far northeast corner of Iowa indicate that higher planting rates (1 bushel per acre versus 0.5 bushel per acre) for late-seeded rye cover crop (Oct. 11 and Oct. 31) do not necessarily provide more rye biomass.

The most stark difference between the treatments was between the planting dates -- just one more reminder to get cover crops seeded as soon as possible.
Cover crop seed and application prices often continue to rise the later into fall we get. Think about getting ahead of the price jump with businesses on our directory.

To get your business listed in the cover crop business directory, e-mail jason@practicalfarmers.org with your business name, services offered, website or Facebook page, location and phone number.
Are you participating in an NRCS or IDALS cover crop cost-share program? Make sure you meet the required seeding rates and dates. Also check with your county office to see if the seeding dates are extended. 
Enrolled in cost-share? Don't forget to attend one of the cover crop learning events listed below!
Remember that if you’re enrolled in the PFI-administered private cover crop cost-share program, you are required to attend a cover crop learning event this calendar year. See upcoming events below.

Hold on to your cover crop receipts!
After Thanksgiving we will request a copy of your cover crop receipts for verification. You’ll receive an email survey to submit receipts.
Host a cover crop meet-up!
Want to host a casual gathering to talk cover crops? Sarah Carlson will bring the pizza and drinks, you bring the neighbors to talk cover crops. Contact Sarah if interested sarah@practicalfarmers.org.
Hosted by: Paustian Farms
Sept. 19 | 5-7 p.m. | Walcott

Hosted by: Madison County SWCD
Sept. 24 | 9:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m. | Winterset
Hosted by: Taylor County SWCD and Chase & Jess Weller
Sept. 25 | 5-7 p.m. | Sharpsburg

Cover Crop Champion Field Day (See flyer below)
Hosted by: Jeff Olson and CDI
Sept. 30 | 4-6 p.m. | Winfield
Are you planning or hosting a cover crop field day? Send the details to rebecca@practicalfarmers.org, and we’ll include it in our next newsletter!
Alisha Bower
Strategic Initiatives Manager
(515) 232-5661
Sarah Carlson
Strategic Initiatives Director
(515) 232-5661
Chris Wilbeck
Independent Contractor
(515) 232-5661
Rebecca Clay
Strategic Initiatives Assistant
(515) 232-5661