Soil health is a popular topic in farm magazines and agricultural web sites in recent months. There are a lot of dollars being invested in collecting data to find out if cover crops can improve soil health and make a good return on investment. Data collection started 3 years ago on a small scale and is now expanding across the corn belt.
The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) is leading the charge to have an organized data collection project. SHP is a collaboration of some interesting bed partners which includes the National Corn Growers Assoc., Monsanto, The Nature Conservancy, The Walton Foundation, Several public universities, to name a few.
Is soil health the real reason for this charge to collect data? Yes and no. While the project is interested in proving the value of cover crops and hoping that farmers will see an increase in yields. I keep hearing the words “water quality” meaning a real goal of some of the SHP partners involved is to help agriculture clean up their “water” act.
The Johnloz Farm is one of 110 farms across the corn belt participating in the SHP project. Why? Because I want clean water, better soil health, less soil erosion, and increased yields. That is a win-win-win for everyone and if we can accomplish that with cover crops on our farm we can do it on our client’s farms we manage. Let’s be proactive in agriculture, not reactive when the government tells us how to farm! Will cover crops pay off, stay tuned for a few years and we will have data to give us some answers.