Loren Wester, ISA farmer-member of Meriden looks at roo

Loren Wester, ISA farmer-member of Meriden looks at root growth on cereal rye with Ryan Johnson, ISA conservation agronomist while visiting fields on the cover crop tour in Cherokee County. (Photo credit: Kriss Nelson/Iowa Soybean Association).

A first impression

April 28, 2022 | Kriss Nelson

First impressions matter, and what Loren Wester of Meriden saw during the cover crop tour in Cherokee County made an impact.

Wester, an Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) farmer-member, joined Ryan Johnson, ISA conservation agronomist, visiting fields featuring various cover crop management practices last week.

Wester took advantage of the tour with Johnson as his tour guide to inquire about different managing practices involved in raising cover crops.

“The tour is an excellent way to see what the potential is,” Wester says. “To see what can happen if you get the cover crop established and growing properly all looks very beneficial.”

Wester was impressed with the variety of growth stages of the cover crops and how well they were growing; he wasn’t sure cover crops would work in his area.

One of the stops on the tour shows a cover crop planted into corn chopped for silage early last September.

“When they take the corn off earlier in the season and get the cover crop established sooner, that looks very positive,” says Wester.

Cover crop fields that are a part of the self-guided cover crop tour can be viewed now through June 1.

“I wanted the tour not only to be a way to help promote cover crops but to give producers who may be contemplating using cover crops a simple way to look at how other farmers are making the practice work and find a similar approach that would fit their operation,” says Johnson.

The tour includes 20 locations, resulting from a collaborative effort between Johnson and Nick Livermore, Cherokee County district conservationist. 

Participants can follow a virtual map to the 20 locations featuring a variety of cover crop species, all planted using different rates, dates and seeding methods.

The tour gives visitors the background and information of each location to view on their own time.

 “They will see a lot of fields where the cover crops are grazed. One field has cover crops drilled in areas prone to erosion instead of the entire field,” Johnson says.

 The timing of the self-guided tour will also give viewers a firsthand look at cover crops being terminated and how a cash crop can be managed into cover crops.

After you complete the tour, fill out a survey for a chance to win a $25 gas gift card. To verify participation, keep a lookout for what words are below signs four and 20 out in the fields.

Cost-share funds

Cost-share funds are available for implementing cover crops. If you are interested in implementing cover crops on your farm, or for more information about the 2022 cover crop tour, contact:

Ryan Johnson, rjohnson@iasoybeans.com, 712-229-7184; or Nick Livermore, nicholas.livermore@usda.gov, 712-225-3759.