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      Hometown Farmer: Cover Crops Consensus

      "This is what's helping out with our erosion, this is what's giving us some more biological activity in the ground," said Bruce Willems, examining a clump of rye grass pulled from his field near Correctionville, Iowa earlier in the morning.Those benefits are why a lot of farmers decided to sew their fields with cover crops last fall.Plus, a grant program from the state of Iowa for first time cover crop users didn't hurt either."That's the main reason why I got into it," said Willems.Airplanes dropped rye onto Bruce's fields in September of 2013, but looking at one of his green fields the following spring, after a lot of cool weather and not much moisture, he says the rye didn't grow like he hoped."If it had been a little warmer this would probably be another, maybe even another ten inches taller than what it is right now," said Willems. "It'd be just like a pasture."He's starting to kill the rye off now, to put corn and soybeans in the ground.He says it's pretty hard to tell if this rye made much of a difference.That makes it hard to tell if the extra cost of putting that green in the ground was worth it, even with the grant money."My share is going to be around $40," said Willems.That's $40 for every acre.A high cost, since it could years before farmers see the real benefits of cover crops."Maybe ten years from now people won't be doing this anymore, or maybe everybody's going to be doing it because we're going to be seeing the benefits from it," said Willems. "We just don't know for certain." Since that first time grant money won't be there for him next year, Bruce is still deciding how to make cover crops a permanent sight on his farm.Bruce says he might put fewer cover crops on next season and he'll try to put them in the ground himself.A cheaper alternative to using an airplane to put down the seed.If you know of any farmers you think would be great here on "Proud to be a Hometown Farmer," please email Jake at: jheller@siouxlandnews.com
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