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Do Cover Crops Pay?

Presentation by Lauren Cartwright, Agricultural Economist for NRCS

Agricultural Economist Lauren Cartwright will discuss some of the benefits to our rivers and soils by incorporating cover crops into agricultural systems, and discuss the economic benefits to farmers.

Cover Crops

A Scott County farmer drills corn into a 6-way cover crop field. Cover cropping can reduce erosion and improve soil health. Photo courtesy of NRCS.

Time and Place

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
7:00 pm

Big A's on the Riverfront
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Presentation and discussion led by Lauren Cartwright, Agricultural Economist/Natural Resources Specialist – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

6. p.m. Social Hour at Big A’s Restaurant
7:00 p.m. Presentation

At Big A’s Restaurant (in the back room)
308 N Main St. –  St Charles, MO
(directions below)

Presentation is FREE and open to the public!

Under today’s cropping practices, the soils of the Missouri River watershed are often left without any protective cover during and after crop harvest.  As a result, erosion and water quality are major resource concerns.  In addition, the continued use of tillage negatively impacts the biologic and fungal health of our soils resulting in an overall reduction in soil health.
Crimson Clover

Clover, a nitrogen fixing legume, is an important part of a soil building cover crop program. Studies show long term economic benefits from incorporating cover crops into ag systems.

“Cover crops” have now become a primary focus of soil science and natural resources management.  Cover crops as part of a cropping system contribute to an overall improvement in soil health which increases soil water holding capacity and reduces erosion which results in improving the water quality of our watersheds. Cover crops may also reduce the use of fertilizer inputs in the long run as the organic content of the soil is restored.  In addition, increased organic matter improves percolation and water holding capacity making soils more resistant to droughts and keeps the soil in place during heavy rainfall events.

Initially, adding cover crops increases farm production costs. However, some innovative producers have found that the utilization of cover crops and the associated changes in crop rotation may actually lead to increased profitability.  Lauren Cartwright, Agricultural Economist with the NRCS, will discuss the tool she developed with a colleague to look in detail at the farm economics of some Missouri farmers who are adding cover crops to their cropping operation.  She will provide a brief history of the “Cover Crop Economics Decision Support Tool” which is used to analyze the economic costs and benefits and the case study results so far from Missouri farmers utilizing cover crops in their operation.
Lauren’s goal is to learn from farmers utilizing cover crops, and assess the costs and benefits Missouri farmers have experienced.  This information helps us understand farm level decision making and peer-to-peer sharing of information (successes and failures).   Lauren said “I would like to think that my work focusing on cover crop economics will be a part of many other wonderful projects that will lead to large scale adoption of cover crops in Missouri which will result in healthier soil, cleaner water, and increased farm profitability.”


To Big A’s on the Riverfront, our host for the Speaker Series.

To get there from I-70

  • Take I-70 to exit 229B – the 5th St. Exit
  • Merge onto 5th St. headed north toward St. Charles.
  • After about 1 mile, turn right on Monroe St.
  • Turn left onto N. Main St.
  • Big A’s will be on your right (308 N. Main St.) Additional parking is available in the rear.
  • View on Google Maps.

Resources and Links

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The Big Muddy Speakers Series in St. Charles

is hosted by these wonderful partners:

All speakers are presenting for free and Big A’s is sharing the space for free! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us!

The Big Muddy Speaker Series also takes place monthly in Rocheport and Kansas City.

A special thank you to Greg Poleski and Mike Garvey of Greenway Network for making this happen!