Cover crops in field

Farmers for Soil Health will incentivize farmers to adopting cover crops. (Photo: Iowa Soybean Association/Joclyn Bushman).

Incentivizing adoption of cover crops

February 8, 2024 | Kriss Nelson

A program designed by farmers for farmers to enhance soil health and profitability is available for Iowa farmers.

Iowa is one of 20 states enrolled in the initiative that assists farmers with the start-up costs of cover crops with financial assistance of up to $50 per acre.

Farmers for Soil Health is a collaborative effort initiative led by the Soy Checkoff, Pork Checkoff and National Corn Growers Association in partnership with state commodity groups and conservation organizations.

At the state level, the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), the Iowa Corn Promotion Board and the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance are the technical assistance leads for the program, which is possible through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Fund.

“Our conservation agronomists will serve as the technical assistance providers in Iowa, connecting with farmers about the cost share incentive and providing the in-field assistance and best management recommendations for growing cover crops,” says Rosie Roberts, ISA technical insights manager.

Farmers qualify for the cost share in new cover crop acres.  The $50 is split over three years: $25 for the first year, $15 for the second and $10 for the third.

There is a $2 an-acre cost share opportunity for farmers already planting cover crops.

“The payment for existing cover crop acres is unique, as most programs do not offer cost share on pre-existing cover crop acres,” says Roberts.

There may be additional benefits for farmers who enroll in the Farmers for Soil Health program.

“While Farmers for Soil Health is paying a per acre cost share today, there are plans to provide other incentives in the future, including a marketplace to help connect farmers to supply chain partners,” says Roberts.

Sign-up for the Farmers for Soil Health is through Feb. 29.

To enroll in Farmers for Soil Health cost share, contact ISA’s Conservation Agronomist lead, Mike Gilman, at 515-577-5600 or email or enroll online at