Guest Post: Cover Crops Benefit Organic Farmers in More Ways than One

Guest Post: Cover Crops Benefit Organic Farmers in More Ways than One

Many organic farmers want to reduce their reliance on traditional crop inputs. And one of the best ways to achieve this goal is by planting cover crops.

In addition to higher-yielding crops, most operations will benefit from improved soil health along with a wider range of crop marketing options.

Case in point: Justin Raikes. This fifth-generation farmer has been so impressed with the results of cover cropping on his Nebraska acres that he decided to launch his own seed business called Nebraska Cover Crop.

He’s inspired to share his experiences so that more organic farmers are aware of the benefits cover crops can provide.

The Decision to Go Organic

Justin runs a large family farm. About a quarter of the 4,500 acres are certified organic and they have 700 more acres in transition.

Justin says his decision to go organic is working out even better than he expected. Organic price premiums are a clear benefit, but so is improved soil health.

Last year, the corn plants in his fields looked strong and robust – even the ones growing next to an escaped waterhemp overwhelmed by Japanese beetles.

“That’s not something we would typically see in a conventional field,” he says. “I think that push is encouraging.”

Launching an Organic Cover Crop Seed Business

Justin started his organic cover crop seed business for the economic benefits, a chance to give organic farmers better seed options, and a family history of entrepreneurship.

His grandfather ran a seed plant for public hybrid development for about 40 years beginning in the 1930s. He says, “I can appreciate where his mindset was at the time.

Having the ability to produce your own high quality seed was both a necessity for him and the community as a whole.”

By launching his business, Nebraska Cover Crop, Justin can now offer a lower-cost option to growers in his county and beyond.

Marketing Opportunities with Organic Cover Crops

When organic farmers plant cover crops, it can open doors to new markets. The Raikes are raising crops they never would have considered on a purely conventional operation.

Justin says cover crops offer a new way to realize economic benefit, better soil health, and more. He says there’s often a payoff for going organic and/or utilizing cover crops.

“You can do a lot of things right on the conventional side and still get annihilated,” he adds.

“At the end of the day, organic farming rewards you as much and even more than you invest in it.”

- Justin Raikes, Nebraska Cover Crop

Nebraska Cover Crop

To learn more about Nebraska Cover Crop call 402-521-0827 or email justin@nebraskacovercrop.com.

AgriSecure Can Help

If you want to build a network and receive guidance from a team with over 50 years of large-scale organic row crop production experience, AgriSecure can help.

Contact us to learn how you can transition to organics or scale an existing operation.