Farmer and conservation agronomist in field

ISA conservation agronomist, Ryan Johnson looks over the cover crop tour guide with Loren Wester, ISA farmer-member of Meriden during last year's cover crop tour of Cherokee County. (Photo: Iowa Soybean Association/Kriss Nelson).

Cover Crops in Action

April 6, 2023 | Kriss Nelson

There is a chance to see cover crops emerge and how they are managed this spring during the Iowa Soybean Association’s (ISA) Cover Crops in Action tour.

Eight counties are part of the tour, including: Benton, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Cherokee, Linn, O’Brien, Pocahontas and Sac.

Participants see firsthand how farmers in their area successfully incorporate cover crops onto their farms as well as opportunities to see other conservation efforts in action.

The recommended viewing time is now until June.

“These tours are a way for farmers to get out into the countryside, to see what is being done that positively impacts soil and water quality,” says Joe Wuebker, ISA conservation agronomist. “They can gauge whether these practices are something they would try or learn more about.”

Self-guide resource

By visiting Cover Crops in Action,  you can scan QR codes for a virtual map and find PDFs, including the list of stops on the tour that will allow you to plan your drive as your schedule allows.

Stops highlighted in blue show opportunities to win a $50 gas gift card. To participate, visit one of the highlighted locations and scan the QR code on-site for a chance to win.

Benton and Linn counties

This “Conservation in Action tour” includes 16 stops with 20 sites featured in a 15-mile round trip tour in western Linn County and eastern Benton County.

These sites will showcase a variety of cover crops and conservation practices, including long-term no-till sites.

“We are trying to showcase what our farmers are doing,” says Evan Brehm, ISA conservation agronomist. “Those attributes to conservation help water quality, soil health, the environment and overall farmer profitability.”

In addition, for a chance to win a $50 gas gift card, the City of Cedar Rapids and Textile TapHaus in Atkins are also stepping up to help encourage people to take part in the tour.

Be sure to snap a photo of the Conservation in Action tour sign and post it to the City of Cedar Rapids’ Facebook page to win a prize.

If you are thirsty and hungry after the tour, visit Textile TapHaus and present them with a picture of the tour sign and they will offer $1 off of a drink or $2 off food.

Maps are also available at Linn Co-op, 2851 71st Street, Newhall.

The Linn County Soil and Water Conservation District helped to fund the field signs.

For more information, contact Brehm at  or (319) 310-5468.

Buena Vista, Cherokee, O’Brien and Pocahontas counties

The tour in Cherokee and O’Brien counties will feature 19 sites, including drone-applied cover crop seed that will give participants a chance to compare that method to aerial and drilled. Some cover crop fields are being grazed, and some fields will show where farmers are just starting their journey into cover crops.

Ryan Johnson, ISA conservation agronomist, says one of the stops was seeded in March with crimson clover in a fresh layer of snow. A video of that can be seen here.

For the Buena Vista and Pocahontas portions of the tour, there are 20 sites to visit, also featuring different cover crop seeding methods of multi-species vs. single species.

Although the recommended tour dates are April to June, Johnson says he encourages people to visit several times to see the effects cover crops have on the early part of the growing season.

“You can see the different termination dates and timings, see whether people plant green or terminate ahead of planting, and weed control compared to other fields,” he says.

Portions of tours are funded by local Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

For more information, contact Johnson at or call (712) 229-7184.

Calhoun and Sac counties

There are 16 sites in Calhoun and Sac counties, stretching from near the Lake View area, south toward Breda, east to Lanesboro and north to Lake City.

Wuebker has partnered with Ethan Theis, Black Hawk Lake Watershed and Source Water Coordinator, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Agricultural Clean Waters Association to make this portion of the tour possible.

This tour's stops include a diversified mix of cover crop management styles and an opportunity to see a bioreactor and a drainage water recycling pond.

“It’s a chance to look at different approaches and help people understand cover crops and conservation are not a cookie cutter thing, and there is more than one way to integrate them onto their farms,” says Wuebker.

For more information, contact Wuebker at or call (712) 790-1415.