The Daily Iowegian
---- — The Fox River Watershed Project is now taking applications for cover crop cost share assistance.
Cover crops can slow erosion, improve soil, smother weeds, enhance nutrient and moisture availability, help control many pests, as well as provide an additional source of forage for livestock.
A three-year study in Iowa reported that rye cover crops over-seeded into no-tillage soybean reduced interrill erosion by 54 percent and rill erosion by 90 percent compared with no-tillage without cover crops. Oat cover crops reduced interrill and rill erosion by 26 percent and 65 percent, respectively. Nitrogen remaining in the soil after harvest is a significant source of nitrate contamination for groundwater, wells, streams, and lakes. During the late fall and early spring, small grain cover crops accumulate nitrates that would otherwise leach out and potentially contaminate water supplies. Nitrate accumulated by cover crops is recycled into the soil in plant residues. In Iowa, field studies conducted over three years have shown that rye cover crops reduced nitrate losses by 96 percent while oat cover crops reduced losses by 75 percent. Small grain cover crops can also reduce the number of early season weeds and provide a mulch for continued weed suppression.
Fox River Watershed project is offering cover crop cost share for ground in the priority area. Fox River cost share amount will be 75 percent with a maximum of $20 per acre.
Funding is limited so interested landowners and producers are encouraged to sign up early for cost share. To be considered in the first allocation of funding applications should be submitted no later than Aug. 21. Those interested can sign up at the Soil and Water Conservation District office at 501 N. 12th St. Suite 2, Centerville.