Some Simple Cover Crop Economics

Aaron Waller, Colorado/Wyoming Ag Economist with NRCS, put together this relatively simple illustration of the economics of using cover crops, specifically with cost share aid from NRCS. Hey if I can understand it anybody can.

One of the major issues the “jury” seems to still be deliberating on is the soil moisture question in the more arid areas of dryland or non-irrigated farmland. Will a cover crop decrease the yield of the following cash crop? The implication is that it’s likely a question of “soil health status”. In other words – a depleted soil may show a decrease in subsequent yield (from lower soil moisture status) while a healthy soil may have an insignificant difference or even an increase in yield after a cover crop. Considering the other benefits of a healthy soil system besides a higher AWC, in the long run, yields really should be, at a minimum, equal to present or significantly higher.

Even in irrigated country this is relevant from the standpoint of water use efficiency with soil water storage being the focus.

Pay special attention to the 3 points at the end of the example. (This is just a screen shot so the link won’t work.)

About Chuck

Soil Scientist USDA/NRCS, Owner -
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