Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
Steve Plate (pictured) and Sherwin Plate of Rose Hill weren’t getting their ideal biomass growth of their cover crop when terminating before planting corn and soybeans. They started “planting green” eventually moving to “extended delayed termination” to maximize cover crop biomass in their soybean fields. This spring, they’ve already made a pass with 2,4-D to kill the broadleaves, then planted with a 15-inch row Kinze Split Row Planter, and now they're "ready to wait" to terminate up to three weeks after planting.

Consider soil moisture: Steve says that the rye can suck up the moisture needed for the soybeans to imbibe and germinate. “Watch the top 1.5 to 2 inches of the soil to make sure your soybeans have enough moisture,” he advises.

Look for trifoliate leaves: “Once the soybeans have emerged, and the trifoliate leaf pattern is visible, you can terminate the cover crop,” Steve goes on: “If the soybean is just in the cotyledon stage when the sprayer tires hit it, it won’t bounce back.” Spraying at an angle to the planter rows will also minimize damage to the soybeans.

Mind your crop insurance: Steve recommends that you keep in mind crop insurance guidelines when thinking about extended delayed termination. He typically asks a CCA and NRCS agent to sign off on the practice to show his crop insurance agent (see below for more details).
Crop insurance & cover crops
Remember that your crop insurance has rules about when you must terminate your cover crop. Full guidelines are listed in this PDF. Cover crop termination date can be later than those listed in the guidelines if the producer can show that according to existing university research, it will not negatively impact the cash crop OR they can present a written document of support for the practice from an agricultural expert ( defined in this FAQ section).
Planting soybeans into living cereal rye cover crops -- and terminating the cover crop after planting -- lets you maximize the benefits of cover crops: more biomass for weed control, nutrient retention and organic matter.

Jeremy Gustafson of Boone no-tills soybeans into standing cereal rye cover crops, and in this video, he talks about the adjustments he's made to his soybean planter to aid in planting.
Sam Bennett of Galva has seen evidence that a cereal rye cover crop can suppress weeds and reduce herbicide inputs in soybeans.

As such, he grew soybeans following a cereal rye cover crop and compared three herbicide packages that varied in residual activity and cost. Check out Sam’s on-farm research on the subject in this video.
Published just last month, this report chronicles research conducted by Jon Bakehouse, Tim Sieren and Sam Bennett on how delaying termination of a rye cover crop in soybeans affected rye biomass quantity, soybean stand and soybean yield on each of their farms.
Farmers planting cover crops for the first time are eligible for $25/ac. Farmers continuing to plant cover crops can receive $15/ac. Growers using no-till or strip-till for the first time can receive $10/ac. Farmers who use a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor to apply fall fertilizer are eligible for $3 per acre through the cost-share fund.

Public cost share opportunities such as this can be coupled with the cost share PFI administers. Read the full announcement here.
Given the current advisory to avoid congregating in groups, Practical Farmers is pivoting to hosting some field days online. Please watch for updates on our website; in Practical News, our weekly email newsletter; on our Facebook page; and if you are a member, on our email discussion lists.
Hosted by: Iowa Learning Farms and Northeast Iowa RC&D
May 6 | 12 – 1 p.m. | Online

Hosted by: Land & Leadership Initiative
May 7 | 10 a.m. | Online

Hosted by: Green Cover Seed
May 12 | 5:30 p.m. | Online

Hosted by: Tama Soil & Water Conservation Distract
June 23 | 3 – 6 p.m. | Grinnell
Want to host an online gathering to talk about cover crops? We’ll help you with the tech, and you invite your neighbors. Contact Sarah if interested sarah@practicalfarmers.org

Are you planning or hosting a cover crop field day—virtual or in person? Send the details to rebecca@practicalfarmers.org, and we’ll include it in our next newsletter.
What's the status of your soybean going into cover crop?
Planted, but haven't checked seed placement
Planted, seed germinated & in good moisture
Planted, seed germinated & in low moisture or too shallow
Not planted yet
Want to expand further on this poll topic? Reply to this email and we may feature your thoughts in the next issue of "The Practical Cover Cropper."

Send us your cover crop poll ideas! We want to know what YOU want to know, reply to this email with your ideas for the next poll.
Previous poll results:
What’s your experience with growing small grains (cereal rye, oats, winter wheat, etc.)?
  • I used to grow small grains but have stopped - 10%
  • I currently grow small grains - 70%
  • I’m intrigued but haven’t grown them yet - 20%
  • I’m not interested - 0%
Ready to invest in cover crops on your farm?  You could earn $1,600 or more to help offset the cost fill out the application now to see if you’re eligible.
Sarah Carlson
Strategic Initiatives Director
(515) 232-5661
Chris Wilbeck
Independent Contractor
(515) 232-5661
Rebecca Clay
Strategic Initiatives Assistant
(515) 232-5661