Truterra and SWCS Research Shows Cover Crops’ Value

Cindy Zimmerman

Truterra, LLC, the sustainability business of Land O’Lakes, Inc., and the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) have just announced preliminary findings from the first of a three-year on-farm trial to evaluate the use of cover crops to build soil health, reduce erosion, sequester carbon and improve return on investment. The research was conducted across more than 2,400 acres in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.

Key findings from the first year of the trial include:
· Trial acres were net carbon negative, sequestering nearly three times as much greenhouse gas than check fields without cover crops emitted, on average;
·  Sheet and rill erosion was cut in half and wind erosion was reduced by nearly three quarters (72%); and
·  Analytics from the Truterra sustainability tool, which quantifies trial participants’ stewardship actions, found that cover-cropped fields showed an average improvement of 8 points to their sustainability score. The 0-100 scale looks at overall sustainability of the field; the higher the number the better.

The trial is part of a $1.5 million USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant On-Farm Trials (CIG-OFT) awarded in 2019 and is being conducted in partnership with Truterra-aligned retailer cooperatives Alliance Ag and Grain, Frontier Cooperative and Heartland Cooperative. Participating farmers and retailers use the Truterra™ sustainability tool to measure the performance of trial acres that implemented cover crops against the performance of a non-cover cropped control group. Participating farmers are also receiving scientific support through SWCS to help evaluate environmental outcomes, giving them the information needed to consider adopting these regenerative practices more widely across their operations in the future.

AgWired Precision, carbon, Conservation, cover crops, Soil, Water