Cover Crop Acreage Up 50 Percent

The adoption of cover crops as a key soil health practice continues at a rapid rate throughout the country, according to new data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program says new data shows cover crops were planted on 15.4 million acres in 2017, up 50 percent over five years. Iowa led the way with a 156 percent increase during that period, and a number of other states also more than doubled their cover crop acreage, including Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Mississippi, Nebraska, Vermont and Arizona.

Dr. Rob Myers of the organization says the growth in cover crop acreage is “providing major dividends in soil health and conservation.” He called the need for cover crops for soil protection “paramount, as our whole food system depends on having healthy soils.”

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program has funded nearly 1,000 research and education projects on cover crops in the 30 years since it was first funded by USDA.