Long time Illinois farmer Sonny Snyder learned this year that cover crops are a money saver, a soil saver and, with success, a revenue enhancer…although he’s had to spend some time learning new management techniques.
Click here for the story. Here’s an excerpt:
After more than 50 years of farming, Sonny Snyder last fall planted a crop he never intended to harvest.
At first mention, the idea seems an odd use of time and money. Yet, a growing number of corn and soybean farmers like Snyder are trying it throughout the state to improve their soils.
Farmers call them cover crops, and the re-born concept seems one of the hottest topics in the agriculture industry, said Russ Higgins, commercial agriculture educator with University of Illinois Extension and a representative of the Midwest Cover Crops Council.
Cover crops, such as radishes and ryegrass, are a secondary crop planted in the fall to protect and improve soil conditions during the period of time when crops normally wouldn’t grow, he said. Illinois farm fields, unless planted to harvestable crops like winter wheat or multiple seasons of alfalfa hay, generally rest unused in a six- to seven-month window of cool or cold weather.
“For a long time, I’ve been concerned about taking our crop off our fields and there’s six months before there’s anything back on it,” said Snyder, who farms near Yates City with his son Scott.