A new study indicates that crop insurance requirements are not barriers to adoption of conservation practices like planting cover crops and can, in fact, be complementary. However, several other factors emerged as challenges to conserving more soil, including the cost, time and labor involved and the “lack of proven benefits.” That’s according to a new peer-reviewed study in the renowned Journal of Environmental Management. “Despite a growing number of financial incentives offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other entities, cost and the time/labor required continue to be barriers for cover crop adoption, and were tied as the most limiting factor for cover crop adoption among surveyed producers,” according to the report. Researchers from Purdue University, Arizona State University, and the Nature Conservancy used interviews and a multi-state survey to determine if crop insurance requirements limited cover crops and conservation tillage for corn producers in the Midwest. Respondents were already using both crop insurance and conservation on their farms. 90 percent were enrolled in crop insurance, 60 percent used conservation tillage, and 25 percent planted cover crops. Adoption rates of conservation practices were higher among respondents enrolled in crop insurance than those not using crop insurance and fewer than 6 percent of farmers believed crop insurance was limiting conservation adoption. “Our findings routinely contradict the notion perpetuated in agricultural media publications that conservation adoption is limited by crop insurance requirements, or that producers must forgo crop insurance to use conservation practices,” the researchers noted.

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