Experienced cover croppers on hand to share advice at Farm Progress Show

For Release: August 14, 2014

AMES, Iowa — Experienced cover crop farmers met recently to discuss the latest cover crop science ahead of the Farm Progress Show.  These farmers will be on hand at the Practical Farmers of Iowa booth, in the Varied Industries Tent, to talk about cover crops and share advice for successful management. Stop by the booth to join in cover crop conversations happening throughout the day, ask questions and hear short presentations on the possibilities for cover crops in Iowa.

How-to videos, the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide and an updated Iowa Cover Crop Business Directory—featuring seed houses, aerial applicators and co-ops that can help with seed cleaning or terminating a cover crop—will also be available to visitors.  In partnership with the Conservation Districts of Iowa, Practical Farmers has planted a cover crop demonstration plots on the Farm Progress Show grounds, featuring popular cover crops like winter cereal rye and cover crop mixes.

Mark Peterson, who farms about 400 acres of row crops near Stanton, is now in his fourth year of using cover crops on his farm. He will be one of the farmers on hand to answer questions and explain what led him to decide the benefits of trying cover crops outweighed the risks.

“I had heard about cover crops for a couple years before deciding to give them a try,” says Peterson, who also serves on the Practical Farmers of Iowa Board of Directors. He says part of his initial reluctance was concern over how a cover crop could be killed in time so it didn’t become a weed in the spring. “Confidence comes from experience and talking to others with experience,” he describes as motivation for serving at the PFI booth.

Peterson says while he understands the hesitation to try cover crops, he feels the benefits far outweigh the risks.

“Whether your ground is hilly or flat, cover crops can benefit everybody,” he says. “Those with hilly ground will have a certain amount of erosion, so that’s one reason to look at cover crops. Another benefit is the improvement in soil organic matter by planting cover crops in the off season. Planting the right kind of cover crop also has the potential to provide extra nitrogen to your next year’s crop.” He adds that, if farmers needed another reason, cover crops can help fields keep more fertilizer on the crop and out of waterways – saving money and reducing nutrient losses to rivers and lakes and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

Peterson will also be hosting a campfire social on Wednesday evening, following the Farm Progress Show, at the Prairie Flower Recreation Area at Saylorville Lake (GPS: 41°44’54″N, 93°41’15″W).  Continue the cover crop conversations, share discoveries of the Show and enjoy food, fellowship and an Iowa summer evening. Attendees are asked to bring lawn chairs and a potluck dish to share.

For more information on cover crops, or the Practical Farmers of Iowa presence at the Farm Progress Show, contact Sarah Carlson at (515) 232-5661 or sarah@practicalfarmers.org.


Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers that seeks to strengthen farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.


Sarah Carlson | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | sarah@practicalfarmers.org

Drake Larsen | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | drake@practicalfarmers.org