INfield Advantage to Help Indiana Farmers Test Cover Crop Benefits

by | Jun 22, 2022 | Indiana Agriculture News, News Feed

The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA), in partnership with the Indiana Corn Marketing Council (ICMC), the Indiana Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and Truterra, LLC, the sustainability solutions business and subsidiary of Land O’Lakes, Inc., one of America’s largest farmer-owned cooperatives, announced the opening of the enrollment period through Aug. 1 for the INfield Advantage program cover crop trials.

The INfield Advantage program offers Indiana farmers resources and tools to try cover crops on their farms and evaluate the results before deciding to adopt the practice. With emerging carbon market opportunities, INfield Advantage provides farmers a chance to prepare their farms for participation in these new markets.

Farmers enrolled in INfield Advantage will have their acres entered into the Truterra™ sustainability tool, a digital platform that helps farmers, ag retailers and food companies to target and measure sustainability progress and return-on-investment in real time, field-by-field. The Truterra™ sustainability tool will be used to benchmark farmers’ current practices and track progress and improvement over time in the cover crop split-field trial.

To be eligible for the cover crop trial, farmers must plant cover crops, and a 40-80-acre field is recommended for the trial. Twenty acres of cover crop seed will be provided, and farmers may be eligible to receive a $200 sign-up incentive upon enrollment. More information about eligibility requirements and registration can be found online at www.infieldadvantage.org.

“I understand that making changes to your farm can be risky and expensive,” said ISA Board Chair Jim Douglas, a farmer near Geneva in Shelby County. “So, INfield Advantage will equip farmers with tools and resources to test cover crops and collect data from those fields. INfield Advantage offers a unique opportunity for farmers in Indiana to manage the economics of adopting new conservation practices on their farm that can improve both their environmental footprint and their bottom line.”

Funding for the program is provided by a grant through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and ISA and ICMC checkoff dollars, which will cover all costs of farmer participation – including soil testing. INfield Advantage has partnered with Ceres Solutions, which is a part of the Truterra network and uses the Truterra™ sustainability tool to enable additional agronomic and technical assistance to participating farmers.

“Soil health and water quality initiatives are increasingly important to the long-term resilience of agriculture and environmental quality,” said ISDA Director Bruce Kettler. “Thanks to our many partners, we are excited to again offer a cover crop trial that gives farmers the means to collect on-farm data, reduce risk of trying new management, and provide the means to make sound agronomic choices while improving the environment.”

Beck’s Superior Hybrids is providing the cover crop seed for INfield Advantage. Beck’s, based in Atlanta, Ind., is the largest family-owned retail seed company and the third-largest seed brand in the United States. ISA Sustainability and Value Creation Director Ben Forsythe said Beck’s has been an INfield Advantage partner since 2019, and he’s grateful of Beck’s enthusiam to help with seed selection and logistics.

Although the registration for this trial has passed, INfield Advantage also offers tillage and nitrogen use efficiency trials throughout the year – in addition to cover crops. This test is designed to help Indiana farmers test drive practice changes for three of the largest indicators of a farm operations’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Getting set up and entering farm data in the Truterra™ sustainability tool will help farmers better position themselves to access future revenue opportunities through emerging ecosystem markets such as carbon. Truterra launched its carbon program in February 2021. It is a transformational carbon program that helps farmers generate and sell carbon credits to private sector buyers. Participating in future carbon programs requires conservation practices such as cover crops that sequester carbon and collecting specific data on these practices. INfield Advantage is another way for farmers to prepare to participate in these markets as they become available.

“We’re excited to continue to be a collaborator in this opportunity that allows Indiana farmers to test drive on-farm conservation practices that could benefit the environment and boost their bottom line,” said Spencer Herbert, Conservation Manager, Truterra, LLC. “Using our sustainability tool in these collaborative programs will help farmers prepare for future market opportunities – including carbon programs such as the Truterra™ carbon program – while minimizing the risks inherent in any practice change.”

To learn more about the program, visit infieldadvantage.org or email covercrops@isda.in.gov.

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