When you practice cover crops it can take time to see results. But Nicholas Alderink has noticed a difference in his soil in just 3 seasons! He is a part of the Isanti SWCD cover crop program. According to Nick, his soil already has more moisture retention and organic matter. That means a healthier soil to grow better crops!
“Conservation is for all of us”
Kevin Schlipp and his wife have been conservation minded for years. Therefore, when they started learning about cover crops in farmer magazines and from long time practicer Dave Medvecky (part of the Isanti SWCD board), they decided to try them. Kevin has been using cover crops for two years now, and joined the Isanti SWCD Cover Crop Program last year.
Kevin uses a cover crop mix of buckwheat, crimson clover, radish, winter peas, and some soybeans. He chose his mix using the advice of Dave and the NRCS and SWCD staff. When the buckwheat is in bloom the farm is a rolling field of flowers that attracts many bees. However, Kevin’s favorite benefit of the cover crops are not the bumbling bees on his property. Instead, he has noticed “very few weeds breaking out and coming through once the cover crop has been established.” This saves him time, money and chemicals. The weed protection of cover crops encourages Kevin to keep using them, as he says, “If I can get by with using less chemicals that is a motivating factor for me.”
When Kevin was asked why cover crops and conservation was important to him, he responded immediately: “Well, conservation is for all of us.” Cover crops improve soil health and water quality which benefits both the farmer and the environment.
A New Start for Cover Crops
Jake Pohl has been farming his entire life. Now, he’s adding cover crops to his fields. Jake is a part of the Isanti SWCD Cover Crop Program. He has just under 100 acres of buckwheat, radishes and winter peas that will help keep his soil and nutrients in place.
“I like the concept of cover cropping. I would like to do more, especially if there are programs for it.”
This is Jake’s first year doing cover crops with the program. However, his uncle has been doing it for years. Jake is hoping his cover crops will help break up some of the compaction and build up the topsoil. Hopefully, he will be able to do less tillage too. Luckily, the Isanti SWCD has programs for farmers to improve soil health, and even have a no-till drill for rent.
“I think any way you can better the ground is beneficial, and to grow better crops or just soil health is huge.”
Jake is just one of the many farmers in Isanti County practicing cover crops. They have been shown to improve water quality and soil health. As Jake continues to use the Isanti SWCD’s agriculture resources he will achieve his goal of bettering his soil while also protecting natural resources.