Cover crops pay
Level of Expertise: Intermediate, Introductory/Overview,
Topics: Cover Crops,
A national report on cover crop economics by the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program showed that cover crops typically have a net cost for the first couple of years but by the third year of use are breaking even on average. After the third year, well-managed cover crops can generally provide a net profit boost to the farm. Incentive payments for cover crops can provide funding that easily covers the cost of using cover crops for the first few years while the soil improves and until the cover crops start paying their way. Even without incentive payments, many farmers find it worth investing in cover crops, just like liming or tiling their fields. This soil health investment provides for long-term productivity boosts and serves as a form of insurance against drought and excessive rain.