Cover crop
COVER CROPS SHINE: Northeast farmers are quickly catching on to crop and soil health benefits of cover crops.

Northeast cover crop use continues to rise

Penton Agriculture’s poll of 219 Northeast farmers finds cover crop use continues to grow.

Penton Agriculture’s farmer poll at New York Farm Show confirmed that Northeast farmers continue to boost their use of cover crops. The poll, conducted by American Agriculturist, compared 2017 results with those from 2016. Some 219 farmers from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont took part in the survey.

The question was: Will you use cover crops in 2017? It was the same question posed at the show in 2016. Of those responding, 78% replied yes, compared to 64% in 2016.

Only 17% replied no, compared to 24% in 2016. Only 4% were undecided, compared to 12% a year ago.

Which cover crops would they plant? Rye (cereal and grass varieties) plus clover were the most frequent answers. Oats came next, followed by triticale. Others noted included buckwheat, winter wheat, peas and radishes.

Neighbors’ conservation trends
This was a surprise. The poll question was: Are your farming neighbors increasing their use of best environmental management practices?

Some 66% of those responding to the 2016 question answered yes. This year, only 49% affirmed so.

In 2016, 26% were uncertain. In 2017, 43% were uncertain.

In 2016, 8% responded no, the neighbors weren’t increasing their best management practices. That rose to 17% in 2017. Keep in mind that evaluating expansion of a neighbor’s management is subjective — dicey even.

What practices were noted? Cover crops were most mentioned, followed by nutrient management programs, sorghum, reduced spraying frequency and mulching with green crops.

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