I can almost hear organic farmers across the country rolling their eyes, cover cropping: this is news? And, I know, I know, you’ve been doing this for years— but, yes, actually there’s some real good news here: New York Times writer Stephanie Strom’s report, “Cover Cropping: A Farming Revolution with Deep Roots in the Past,” indicates that the tide of mainstream agriculture may be moving towards more sustainable practices.
Case-in-point #1: Some large-scale midwestern grain growers are actively working cover crops into their rotation.
Case-in-point #2: In Maryland, “the state reimburses farmers for the cost of cover crop seed and has been informing them about the impact that fertilizer runoff has on Chesapeake Bay.”
Case-in-point #3: Even Monsanto is investigating cover crops. “Monsanto, together with the Walton Family Foundation, recently put up the money to support the Soil Health Partnership, a five-year project of the National Corn Growers Association to identify, test and measure the impact of cover cropping and other practices to improve soil health.”
We were skeptical of a few of the articles claims– namely that “new” no-till technology contributes to erosion and degrade microbiology in the soil– but we’re still ready to count this article as a victory for all the extension agents and small-scale farmers who have been championing this technology from the beginning.
“We’ve never seen anything taken up as rapidly as using cover crops,” said Barry Fisher, a soil health specialist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency within the Agriculture Department.