Cover crop adoption tends to stick

C.B. Moore/2020

A comprehensive survey of farmers in Ontario suggests that once farmers incorporate cover crops in to the cropping strategy, they tend to stay in the rotation.

That’s according to the Ontario Cover Crop Feedback Survey, completed by graduate student Callum Morrison and advisor Yvonne Lawley with the University of Manitoba. They collaborated with the Ontario Cover Crop Steering Committee to complete the survey of 731 Ontario farms.

Of those surveyed, 520 grew cover crops in 2020, according to results from the 2020 Ontario Cover Crop Feedback Survey, the largest survey of its kind in Canada based on the number of responses received.

Of the 520 respondents that grew cover crops in 2020, 91 per cent observed benefits from growing cover crops, and more than three quarters of farms reported benefits within three years of adopting cover crops. There was also a marked change to tillage practices, as the majority of farmers reported they either did less or the same amount of tillage with cover crops in the mix.

When asked if the cropping system prior to using cover crops was better, only one farmer who had grown covers in 2020 said yes.

The most common cover crop species grown was oats, followed by fall rye and red clover. Farmers reported that the challenges to incorporating cover crops included poor establishment or completing harvest in time to plant the cover crop. Cost was listed as the third most common challenge.

The 2020 Ontario Cover Crop Feedback project was developed to provide information to farmers, agronomists, researchers, policy makers, and government organizations that will play an important role in the future of cover crops in Ontario.

Morrison presented the findings of the survey via webinar Tuesday, December 14. (See Below)

“This survey was made possible by the great support of Ontario farmers. They were asked to provide their feedback about what was occurring with cover crops and the response was tremendous,” says Paul Hoekstra, vice-president of strategic development for Grain Farmers of Ontario. “We thank the farmers, researchers, and the Ontario Cover Crop Steering Committee for the incredible work they have done to represent the needs and voices of Ontario’s grain farmers to highlight the areas where we can continue to provide the best support.”

You can read more about the report, here.