Cover Crop Innovators Video Series
Short videos of innovative farmers from around the United States, including both commodity crop and horticulture producers, illustrate why they are using cover crops, with examples of the benefits they are seeing from cover crops. These videos can be used as part of education programs or by anyone seeking to learn more about cover crop use. They were produced by a University of Nebraska Extension video crew led by Kurtis Harms under a contract with the North Central SARE program.
Use the map to find cover crop videos near you; or, a list of profiles in the Cover Crop Innovator series is below.
Barry Martin plants peanuts, cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat and grain sorghum, and uses strip till. Rye is his main cover crop, which he plants to retain moisture, build organic matter and help control the herbicide-resistant weed Palmer amaranth.
Mitchell farms 3,000 acres of corn and soybeans near Waterloo, Iowa, and is a leader in the use of automation in farming operations and has pioneered quality testing of field operations.
Cody Galligan runs a certified organic, highly diversified vegetable operation on seven acres. He grows cover crops of sorghum, sunn hemp and iron clay peas mainly in the summer off season to aid in weed and nematode suppression.
Dan DeSutter farms 4,500 acres in west central Indiana, using no-till, cover crops and manure to improve soil quality while maintaining high levels of crop production.
David Brandt farms 1,150 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat in Carroll, Ohio, and began using no-till in 1971 and cover crops in 1978.
David Brown experimented with many cover crops before settling on annual ryegrass for his 80-acre organic farm, Mustard Seed Farms. He found it to be the easiest cover crop to manage, especially when terminating it and incorporating it into the soil in the spring, which is typically cool and wet in his region.
Gabe Brown is one of the pioneers of the current soil health movement. He operates a 5,000-acre farm in Bismarck, N.D., that holistically integrates diverse crop rotations, no-till, cover crops and livestock.
Henry Miller uses strip-till and has developed a rotation of soybeans, wheat, snap beans and seed corn as well as numerous cover crops on his 1,800 acre farm in Centreville, Mich.
Jamie Scott, of Pierceton, Ind., farms 2,000 acres as part of a family operation. All tillable acres are no-tilled or strip tilled and have had cover crops planted for the past seven years.
Jeff Frey at Future View Farm, farms 700 acres of cash grain, corn, soybeans, wheat and barley, and finishes hogs. His cover crop of choice is wheat, which he plants primarily to slow erosion, improve the soil and recycle nutrients from hog manure applications. He typically plants directly into the cover crop before terminating it.
Jim Hershey farms 500 acres in Southeast Pennsylvania, where he grows corn, wheat, soybeans and barley along with raising organic broiler chickens and hogs. He has been using cover crops for the last three years, now using a five-way cover crop mix on 100 acres: crimson clover, radishes, triticale, Austrian winter peas and oats.
At Frog Song Organics in North Central Florida, John Bitter grows upwards of 80 crops in a year. Figuring out his rotations is the key to success as an organic farmer, and cover crops are an integral part of every rotation.
John Burk farms 2,500 acres of corn, soybeans, sugar beets and wheat in Bay City, Mich., and uses a variety of cover crops for diverse benefits, including red clover, oilseed radish, oats and rye.
The Family Garden is a certified organic, diversified vegetable farm. Jordan Brown's cover crops typically include oats or rye in the fall through spring, and sunn hemp or sudangrass in the summer. Building soil organic matter is difficult in his climate and production system, so Brown uses cover crops every chance he can.
In addition to no-tilling 2,500 acres of irrigated and dryland corn, soybeans, rye, triticale, peas, sunflowers and buckwheat in south central Nebraska, Keith Berns and his brother, Brian, own and operate Green Cover Seed, a leading supplier of cover crop seeds.
"If somebody posed the question - would I farm without cover crops - I would say no," says Kirk Brock, who grows peanuts, corn and soybeans on 1,000 acres in Northern Florida. Cereal rye has been Brock's go-to cover crop, but he is now experimenting with mixes that include ryegrass, clover and blue lupine.
Larry Thompson has been planting cover crops on his organic vegetable farm since the 1960s to improve the soil, manage nutrients, control erosion and provide habitat to beneficial insects.
Noah Shitama markets a diverse range of produce largely through a 220-member CSA and restaurant sales. "We're trying to establish as much diversity as possible throughout the farm," Shitama says, and cover crops are an integral part.
Ray Gaesser, a soybean producer from Corning, Iowa, who uses cover crops and no-till, is president of the American Soybean Association.
Cover crops improve organic matter in the sandy soils of Sauvie Island Organics, says Farm Manager Scott Latham. They provide a host of other benefits for the diversified 24-acre farm, including the need to irrigate less and better nutrient management.
Stephen Fulford, a 3rd generation farmer, grows peanuts, soybeans and corn, and planted his first cover crop of cereal rye in 2009. One of the main benefits he has seen from cover crops is that the surface residue and improved soil quality allow for better moisture retention and protection against erosion.
Steve Groff farms 225 acres of cash grain crops and 25 acres of pumpkins in Lancaster County, Penn. Cover crops are used purposefully and some fields have not been tilled for over 35 years.
Trey Hill grows corn, soybeans and wheat on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He has been growing cover crops for 20 years, and in the last few years has been planting them on all of his acreage. He experiments with triticale and cereal rye, but his key cover crops are wheat and barley.