Weather Extremes Spur Farmers’ Interest in Cover Crops

Weather extremes are reigniting farmers’ interest in planting cover crops, a traditional farming practice that’s gaining renewed popularity in Kansas and other states. Supporters say it’s a way to help combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A New York-based environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, released a report Thursday on the benefits of cover crops – typically non-commodities that protect the soil between harvests of cash crops. The practice not only cuts crop losses but could also save trillions of gallons of water.

Cover crop use remains low in Kansas. Thursday’s report cited government statistics showing that in 2012 roughly 322,000 acres of cover crops were planted in Kansas, just 1.5 percent of the state’s total cropland.