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Cover Crops:

Cover crops can be an important part of a cropping system. The harvest of row crops such as corn silage or soybeans, usually leaves the soil surface bare until the next crop season. The soil can sit bare for up to 7 months, leaving the soil subject to erosion caused by rainfall, snowmelt, or wind. To help combat and reduce soil erosion, cover crops are usually established and grown in the fall months, and remain until the next spring crop season. 


Cover crops are grasses, legumes, and forbs planted for seasonal vegetative cover that can help reduce soil erosion, maintain or increase soil organic matter, suppress weeds, provide additional forage for livestock, and minimize compaction. 

Photo Gallery: 

Benefits of Cover Crops: ​

  • Increases soil organic matter 

  • Prevents soil erosion 

  • Conserves soil moisture 

  • Increases nutrient cycling

  • Provides nitrogen for plant use 

  • Suppresses weeds 

  • Reduces compaction 

2022 Payment Rate: 

Annual payment rates in priority areas (see map) 

  • Single Specie - $35 - $50 per acre 

  • Two Species - $45 - $65 per acre 

  • Multi-Species - $45 - $75 per acre 

Financial assistance at lower rates (or through other programs) may be available in other areas of the county. 

Payment are made at a flat per acre rate:

  • Maximum $5,000 per producer per year 

  • Receipts or invoices are not required 

  • Paid in lump sum following certification in year 1

SWCD Cover Crop Program Criteria: 

  • Three-year contract is required 

  • Maximum of 50% of a producer's cropland is eligible. Remaining acres may be enrolled in other programs 

  • With approval from SWCD, practice acres may rotate each year of the contract 

  • Grazing is allowed

  • Due to inadequate weather conditions, the SWCD may allow a single contract amendment to add one year for completion of three years of cover crops 

  • Application to be completed with SWCD planning must include the following information: 

    • The resource concern(s) to be addressed by planting a cover crop ​

    • Location of the cover crop planting 

    • Number of acres to be planted 

    • Number of species to be planted

  • Application must agree to participate in Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Program assessment during the life of the contract 

  • SWCD Board approval required 

SWCD Cover Crop Program Area: 

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