A water policy analyst with the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says cover crops are playing a big role in combating climate change. Over the past five years, farmers in the nation’s 10 top agriculture producing states have lost more than $25 billion worth of crops because of weather related problems.
Ben Chou says researchers looked at the ability of cover crops to capture carbon pollution – what he says is one of the major contributors to Climate Change. “We looked at what would happen if 50 percent of the corn and soybean acres in top 10 agriculture states used cover crops,” he says. “What we found was that more than 19 million tons of carbon pollution could be captured each year.”
He tells Brownfield that equals the amount of carbon produced by 4 million vehicles.
Chou says they also looked at how cover crops benefit farmers in years of drought. “If cover crops were used in conjunction with other conservation practices – like no-till or even applying compost to increase the organic matter in the soils,” he says. “Just increasing it 1 percent would allow the soils to hold an additional trillion gallons of water. That enough water to supply the needs of 33 million people for a single year.”
Chou says despite the benefits of cover crops, only 3 to 7 percent of farms in the United States use them and only 1 percent of total cropland nationally is planted to cover crops.