Progressive Farmer magazine published an article by its Ag Policy Editor last week advocating the use of cover crops, especially this year, due to the potential for winter crops to sequester nitrates left in the field from the foreshortened corn crop season.
You can read the whole document here: Advocating for the Soil
Statistics indicate that less than 1% of farmers in the “Upper Mississippi River, Great Lakes and Missouri River basin” were planting cover crops in 2007. My belief, having seen firsthand the growth over the past decade, suggests that the increase in cover crop use since 2007 has absolutely gone off the charts.
I’ve been told that cover crop seed sales (and with annual ryegrass near the top of popular choices) doubled last year (2011) and tripled in the year before that.
Part of the increase has been publicity and the cost-sharing programs rolled out by various governmental agencies. In addition to cover crops being great for soil building, a lot of folks are looking at cover crops as the antidote to hypoxia in various bodies of waters: Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and all the rivers feeding those massive bodies of water.