Farmers for Soil Health is a new collaboration in partnership with the Soy Checkoff, Pork Checkoff and National Corn Growers Association to create a farmer-led cover crop program that advances the use of soil health practices, meets sustainability goals and improves farmer profitability.
Farmers for Soil Health will enable farmers to proactively drive sustainability improvements while gaining critical support from industry and supply chain partners. One way we can accomplish this is by increasing the number of cover crop acres in the U.S. Today, cover crops are only used on about 6% of U.S. cropland.1 Our goal is to improve soil health by encouraging farmers to expand their adoption of cover crops to 30 million acres by 2030.
With Cover Crops, Farmers Can:2
Improve soil health and permeability
Increase drought resistance and improve water quality
Lower input costs
Reduce nutrient loss
Resources on Cover Crops
Cover Crops: A Cost-Effective Tool for Controlling Erosion
This resource discusses the costs of soil erosion. It explains how cover crops and reduced tillage can limit erosion before it begins by protecting soil from raindrops and increasing infiltration.
Find Cover Crops
This Practical Farmers of Iowa project helps producers find nearby cover crop service businesses with seeds, drills and planes; receive cover crop recommendations on species, planting depth and time of year; and make a field map of their operation.
Cover Crop Innovators Video Series
Short videos of innovative farmers from around the United States, including commodity crop and horticulture producers, illustrate why they are using cover crops, with examples of the benefits they see from them.
Cover Crop Fact Sheet Series
This resource includes four fact sheets written by Take Action program university research partners. In addition to residual herbicides, cover crops can be a tool for suppressing herbicide-resistant weeds. Cover crops have the potential to reduce the density and size of weeds early in the growing season, improving herbicide effectiveness and reducing selection for resistance.
Cover Crop Decision Tool
This tool helps farmers make decisions as to which cover crops to plant based on goals they have for cover crops, the cash crops they’re planting and drainage data for their fields.
Soil Health 101: Cover Crops and Water Infiltration
NCAT Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Felicia Bell discusses the role of cover crops in building soil health and introduces managed grazing and different cover crop options, and how these relate to water infiltration into the soil.
Choosing a Cover Crop Species
Cover crop species are recommended at planting and incorporated in this one-pager. Then producers can pick a seeding rate based on the species, time and seeding method chosen.
Midwest Cover Crop Training Modules
These 11 training modules on cover crop selection, management, economics, and related topics are a resource for farm advisors and educators. Each module consists of a PowerPoint slide set with accompanying instructor notes for each slide.
Cover Crop Innovators Video Series: Barry Martin - Hawkinsville, GA
Barry Martin plants peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat and grain sorghum and uses strip-till. Rye is his main cover crop, which he burns down before planting peanuts to minimize problems with corn borer. He also wants to build soil organic matter, capture and retain more water and minimize germination of Palmer amaranth, which has begun to develop herbicide resistance.
Estimating Plant-Available Nitrogen Release from Cover Crops
This Oregon State University fact sheet explains the basics of plant-available nitrogen (PAN) and terminating cover crops for the maximum PAN benefit, and provides instructions on site-specific measuring to predict cover crop PAN.
Cover Crop Economics: Opportunities to Improve Your Bottom Line in Row Crops
This resource looks at the economics of cover crops in corn and soybean rotations to help farmers answer the big question: “When do cover crops pay?”
Cover Crop Decision Tool
The calculator has two parts, Cover Crop Production Costs Estimator and Cover Crop and Tillage Decision Tool, which provide various NRCS cost-share alternatives to adopt cover crops and conservation tillage practices.
Cover Crop Economics
This detailed analysis shows when cover crops begin paying in different management scenarios.
Farmers for Soil Health will enable state commodity groups and other partners to assist farmers in implementing and maintaining cover crops through:
- Farmer outreach, education, and communication
- Financial assistance/cost-share opportunities for farmers
- Technical assistance for farmers
- Identifying and addressing barriers to participation
- Financial incentives
Farmers for Soil Health will track progress through the following measures:
- Practice metrics
- Cover crop acres based on NASS Census of Agriculture data
- Outcome metrics
- Soil loss based on National Resources Inventory data
- Carbon/GHG, soil loss and water quality, which will be modeled by Soil Heath Institute
This program is brought to you by the:
Sustainable pork production begins with sustainably produced corn and soybeans — the two primary ingredients fed to pigs. The Pork Checkoff knows that soy and corn farmers have long been committed to sustainability as frontline environmental stewards and we are pleased to partner with them through Farmers for Soil Health to advance the adoption of cover crops and conservation tillage in corn and soybean production that will ultimately help pork producers reduce their environmental footprint and meet their sustainability goals.
The Farmers for Soil Health Sustainability Blueprint outlines how we work together to improve the sustainability of the pork feed supply.
Throughout the report, you will find research and results from sustainability-focused projects completed by Farmers for Soil Health member organizations along with each organization’s sustainability goals.
Press & Media
USDA Expands Conservation Programs for 2022
Farmers interested in conservation programs through the USDA will see expanded and updated choices for 2022. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced increased opportunities for climate-smart agriculture.
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Historic Investment in Partnerships for 70 Climate-Smart Commodities and Rural Projects
USDA to Triple Commitment with Initial $2.8 Billion Investment Piloting New Revenue Streams for America’s Climate-Smart Farmers, Ranchers and Forest Landowners, with Additional Projects to Come.
Farmers for Soil Health Awarded $95 Million USDA Climate-Smart Ag Grant
USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program announced it will award Farmers for Soil Health (FSH) a $95 million grant.