Iowa NRCS Profiles Annual Ryegrass Cover Crop Innovator

Cover Crop Club Learning to Manage Practice Together

by Laura Greiner, State Public Affairs Specialist, USDA/NRCS – Iowa

Trying something new and innovative is always easier when you can learn from someone else’s experience. For a small group of innovative Pottawattamie County farmers experimenting with cover crops, that someone else is Pete Hobson.

Hobson, a 20-year no-till veteran, said he turned to cover crops as a tool to build more organic matter after test results showed his organic matter had plateaued. “Ideally I would like to increase organic matter one percent every 10 years. I went with rye grass because it will root much deeper than wheat or cereal rye and is a better organic matter builder,” he said.

He aerial seeded his rye at the end of this August at a rate of 25 pounds per acre. “I was surprised with how little rain we had in September that it even germed,” Hobson said.

Looking at a mat of green under his corn stalk residue he asked, “ If we can do this well in a dry year, how well can we do in a normal year?”

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