INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Department of Agriculture, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency have joined forces to implement the Cover Crop Premium Discount Program for the third year in a row.
This program, which mirrors efforts in Iowa and Illinois, will reward farmers who plant cover crops by providing a reduced premium on their crop insurance. The discount program was designed to promote planting additional acres of cover crops that are not covered by other state or federal incentives. This program is eligible for counties in central and southern Indiana’s White River region.
“Providing nutrients and needed ground cover to soil, cover crops are unmatched in the benefits they provide to soil structure,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Implementing cover crops, however, can be expensive. So, I am excited this program will once again give farmers an opportunity to increase their cover cropped acreage, which will improve water quality and enhance soil structure in our state.”
Over the last year, this program has had great success with 55 farmers participating, translating to more than 15,000 acres of cover crops on Indiana farmland in the watershed.
This program will provide farmers with a unique opportunity to receive financial incentives for implementing cover crops on their operation. Farmers who plant cover crops on owned or rented acres will receive a $5 per acre crop insurance premium discount. Farmers who planted cover crops in the fall of 2022 are eligible to apply.
Qualifying counties in the White River area include Bartholomew, Boone, Brown, Clark, Crawford, Daviess, Dearborn, Decatur, Delaware, Floyd, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Johnson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Martin, Monroe, Morgan, Ohio, Orange, Randolph, Ripley, Scott, Shelby, Switzerland, Tipton and Washington.
Cover cropping has many benefits including increased organic matter, improved soil biology as well as better water infiltration and water-holding capacity. This practice also prevents nutrients and sediment from running off the farm, keeping them out of nearby waterbodies and streams. Hoosier farmers planted 1.5 million acres of living covers in 2021 and, apart from corn and soybeans, are planted on more acres than any other commodity crop in Indiana.
“The Nature Conservancy is thrilled to continue this partnership that delivers a unique reward to farmers for adopting cover crops,” said Larry Clemens, Indiana State Director of The Nature Conservancy. “Last year, Indiana farmers helped the state lead the nation in soil health practices by planting over 1.5 million acres of cover crops. This program was instrumental in that achievement, and we will take that success to new portions of the state this year.”
Bruce Kettler, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, encourages farmers to learn more about this program if they farm in central and southern Indiana’s White River region.
“Hoosier farmers are tremendous stewards of the land and take pride in protecting their natural resources,” said Kettler. “This program, made possible by our many partnerships, is an incredible value to the farmers in central and southern Indiana, and I am hopeful many will jump on this opportunity.”
Seeding of cover crops must follow best agronomic practices in terms of appropriate seeding rates, seed mixes and seeding dates to ensure objectives of the cover crop are being met. To ensure the practice provides the best results termination must be completed in the spring.
Funding for this program is provided by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Cummins Foundation, and CenterPoint Energy Foundation. These three foundations are supporting The Nature Conservancy to improve water quality across Indiana and the Mississippi River Basin.
— Indiana State Department of Agriculture