Cover crop research, financial aspects are focus of Boyer farm field day – July 8, near Reinbeck

For Release: June 19, 2015

REINBECK, Iowa — For many farmers, the main obstacle to planting cover crops isn’t uncertainty about their potential benefits. The big barrier, says row crop farmer Jack Boyer, is actually the financial unknown.

“Many farmers accept that cover crops are the right thing to do,” says Jack, who grows seed corn, field corn and soybeans with his wife, Marion, at J Boyer Farms Inc. near Reinbeck. “The question is how do you pay for them?

Jack and Marion and have been integrating cover crops into their fields for the last four years, and participating in on-farm research projects with Practical Farmers of Iowa to try to find answers to that question. They finally have data convincing them there is a financial return, and will share their discoveries at a Practical Farmers field day they are hosting on Wednesday, July 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. They invite anyone curious to learn more about cover crops in corn-soybean systems to attend. J Boyer Farms Inc. is located at 1031 County Road T55, just south of the Grundy County line.

The event – “Cover Crops: What, How and When?” – is free to attend, and will include lunch. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow at (515) 232-5661 or by Thursday, July 2. The field day is sponsored by Grundy County Soil and Water Conservation District and Heartland Co-op.

Attendees will learn about several cover crop research projects the Boyers have been conducting, and hear about their experiences so far. Jack grows seed corn for Dupont Pioneer and has been experimenting with different dates for interseeding cover crops into standing corn in the spring and fall, as well as different cover crop termination dates prior to growing soybeans. He is also investigating the performance of non-Bt corn following a cover crop. Guests will get to view equipment used to seed covers into standing crops. They will also learn about N-WATCH, a soil-testing program to track nitrogen in the soil launched by Illinois Council on Best Management Practices, and hear how aerial photos can help erosion and crop monitoring.

Other speakers will include Bob Recker, of Cedar Valley Innovation; Paul MacKendrick and Jim Phiffer, from Heartland Co-op; Shannon Mitchell, of the Tama-Benton County Nutrient Reduction Demonstration Project; staff from the Iowa Soybean Association; and Jared Finley, who will show the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s rainfall simulator.

Jack says he first decided to try cover crops a few years ago after attending a conference on cover crops. He and Marion want to leave their farm in a condition that’s as good as or better than when they started farming. Jack says he now has data showing where some of the financial return on cover crops comes from.

“It’s in the amount of nitrogen being captured by the cover crop and made available for the following crop,” he says. “While there are still some unknowns, I can show what was available on the day the sample was taken. Even if only 50 percent returns to the soil, that goes a long ways to helping pay for the cover crop.”

Directions: From U.S. 20 at Dike, turn south on Co Rd T55 and go 11.5 miles; the Boyers’ house is the second on the east side of the road, just south of the Grundy County line. Note: GPS systems take people about 1.5 miles south of the Boyers’ driveway.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2015 field day season features 40 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available online at, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2015 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union in partnership with Town and Country Insurance and Hastings Mutual Insurance; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Crosse Seed; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Pro-Soil Ag Solutions; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed and Honey Company.


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


Jack and Marion Boyer | J Boyer Farms Inc. | (319) 345-2265 |

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |