Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE)

National Survey on Cover Crops Seeks Farmer Participation


Farmers are invited to share their thoughts on cover crops—whether or not they use cover crops themselves—in a national survey, now in its third year of collecting valuable data on the increasingly popular management practice. The results, which will be released this summer, will help growers, researchers, agricultural advisors, ag retailers and policymakers more effectively address questions about cover crops and learn about best practices.

The online survey at takes a short time to complete. Farmers who complete the questionnaire are eligible for a drawing for one of two $100 Visa gift cards.

The survey is being conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and is sponsored by USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and Corn+Soybean Digest.

All farmers are invited to complete the survey, says Chad Watts, project manager for CTIC.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve planted cover crops for 40 years or if you’ve never worked with them before,” he notes. “We want to hear from farmers with all levels of interest and experience. It’s just as important to understand what might be preventing a farmer from planting cover crops as it is to understand why another grower is so excited.”

Data from this year’s survey will be compared to information from the two previous years in an effort to identify trends in cover crop practices or attitudes toward cover crops. Other questions will help conservation leaders zero in on details of cover crop practices. SARE, ASTA and scientists from Purdue University helped develop the questionnaire and will also help analyze the results. The editors of Corn+Soybean Digest are distributing the release to their subscribers, inviting a broad base of farmers to participate.

Watts points out that the past two surveys have been extremely influential in helping shape research priorities, educational materials and even public policy related to cover crops. Last year, Jason Weller, chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), cited findings from the 2013 SARE/CTIC Cover Crop Survey in testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee.

“Taking a few minutes to share your opinions about cover crops is a major contribution to the world of conservation agriculture, and it has a real impact on the future of cover crops,” Watts says.

All answers are anonymous; respondents will be directed to another website at the end of the survey to enter the $100 Visa gift card drawing.

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