Crops News

How cover crops can impact erosion control


When it comes to cover crops, it takes patience and time to see the results in many cases. However, it first starts with the realization that there is another way to do things. For example, Missouri farmers Tim and Trent Gottman wanted to implement a tool that would provide erosion control for their fields with runoff. 

It was in the mid-2000s when Tim says he first started noticing a significant change in weather patterns. Rainfall events seemed more frequent and more extreme in the spring, pushing planting dates back later and later. Over years of watching his soils wash away, he and his brother Trent worked toward strategically approaching erosion control in a way that was financially feasible for their farm.

In a new business case from Soil Health Partnership, Tim and Trent Gottman share how building soil health through reduced tillage and cover crops has been critical to reducing erosion on their Missouri farm. By keeping the soil in place, they hold onto valuable nutrients and help protect nearby waterways.

“I don’t want to be the guy that stands in the shop every time we get a big rain and go, ‘Well…’ and just shrug my shoulders,” Tim said. “It seemed to me we needed to start adopting practices where, when that happens, you haven’t lost all your fertility, you haven’t lost all your soil — you stand to live another day. We had to do something to slow this water from running off.”

So, in 2014, they invested in a Salford vertical tillage tool and began using cover crops. Along the way, every decision he and his brother made was driven by a singular vision.

“Our goals [with soil health] have always been around reducing erosion. And we believe that, as the soil structure improves, the price tag will be worth it.”

The business case details the Gottmans’ approach to cover crop planning and implementation, as well as data from two different research trials: 1) an Edge of Field Water Quality Monitoring Program study in partnership with Missouri Corn, Missouri Soy and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and 2) a Soil Health Partnership cover crop trial.

Tim said, “Any time we can show that farmers are trying to be stewards of the land and doing what we can to keep these nutrients from running off, then we can have a positive voice.”

To learn more, visit the Soil Health Partnership website.

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