AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa has released a new cover crop app designed to help farmers easily locate cover crop seed, services and suppliers in time for fall 2021 planting decisions. The app, Find Cover Crops, is free to download and use, and is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
“Whether farmers are looking to source cover crop seed or hire someone to seed their cover crop, the Find Cover Crops app can help,” says Rebecca Clay, PFI’s strategic initiatives and agronomy coordinator.
“Not everyone has the equipment or supplies to seed cover crops themselves – and harvest time gets busy quickly. Having an app that connects farmers instantly to services near them can make a big difference to ensuring they get their cover crop planted during that busy time.”
Practical Farmers worked with North Carolina-based Onyx Ocean Technologies, a Black woman-owned mobile app and web design company, to develop the app, which is funded by a three-year Gulf of Mexico Division Farmer to Farmer grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Find Cover Crops app lets users:
- Search by location or GPS for at least 44 cover crop seed dealers, seed cleaning and custom spraying services located across Iowa, as well as locations in surrounding states
- Request aerial application, custom drilling and high-clearance seeding services right from their phones, or from their computer at https://findcovercrops.com
- Access advice and management recommendations – including embedded how-to videos – for seeding, grazing and terminating cover crops
- Precisely identify the boundaries of fields to be cover cropped using the app’s “Find My Field” feature, which lets users search for, mark and send images of a field to businesses or to PFI for cost-share purposes
“Parcel data from the USDA has been incorporated for all fields in Iowa so that a user in Iowa can zoom to their field and find its boundaries,” says Michael Borucke, data analyst for PFI who worked with the developer on the app.
“The app allows for further modification of the field boundaries to let the cover crop business know which part of the field should be planted to cover crops. The app also includes parcel data from neighboring states.”
A modern tool for a burgeoning crop
The new Find Cover Crops app enters the market at a time when mobile phones have become ubiquitous and essential tools for farmers – and when more farmers are integrating cover crops into their farming systems.
Cover crop apps are few, however, and the Find Cover Crops app is one of the first custom-designed apps dedicated to connecting farmers to cover crop services – and among the first to offer geo-location search capacity, real-time USDA parcel data and in-app service request functionality.
“We designed this app based on what farmers have told us are their biggest questions and challenges with cover crops,” says Sarah Carlson, PFI strategic initiatives director.
“The Find Cover Crops app will empower farmers with a new 21st century tool that can simplify cover crop planning and management, and should make it easier for farmers new to cover crops to access the many benefits of cover crops.”
Dan Bahe, of Stanley, Iowa, operates Bahe Cover Crop seed, which offers cover crop drilling, several types of cover crop seed and conservation mixes (such as for Conservation Reserve Program land) and drilling – and is one of the service providers listed in the app.
“Harvest time is a super busy time of the year, so people can’t always make the time to seed cover crops themselves,” Dan says. “We pride ourselves on being timely and doing a quality job. I’m excited to have a medium to connect farmers to cover crop businesses and sound advice.”
To have your cover crop business added to the app, contact Michael Borucke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Practical Farmers of Iowa
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