Farmers returning to cover crop practice - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Farmers returning to cover crop practice

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MARION, Ill. --  Dozens of farmers from across the region attended a Cover Crop and Soil Health Field Day in Marion. Speakers from the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Department of Agriculture and USDA held presentations on how to implement a diverse cover crop program and its benefit. 

One of the attendees to take part in Thursday's event is Adam Dahmer, a sixth-generation corn and soybean farmer in Marion. He explains that cover crops are planted after a crop is harvested to keep the soil healthy during the fall and winter months. 

The practice dwindled with the popularity of commercial fertilizers. But Dahmer says relying on those chemicals created an issue. 

"Over the years, we've just put our soils in a corn, soybean rotation. Just like you and I, whenever we go to load our dinner plate up, we like diversity. So do our soils," he explains. 

Metropolis cattle and crop farmer Marc Bremer says cover crops allow him to get more use out of his land. Instead of an empty field during the winter, his cows can graze. 

"It’s good for the crops, it’s good for the cattle. We use the cover crops with the cattle," Bremer explains. "I don't spend all day putting hay out, and my cows are happy out there grazing like they are meant to be." 

He says healthy soil also prevents rain water from washing away nutrients and fertilizers into water ways. "We're just like everyone else. We want the land where the lands supposed to be and the water clean." 

Dahmer adds the shift back to cover crops all started with grocery shoppers. "The consumer drives this. The consumer wants safe, cleaner, healthier food. That all trickles back down to us." 

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