by Adam Voight Adam Voight

Keeping plants continuously growing on farmland through the winter protects and enriches the soil, improves water quality, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why Lisa Schulte Moore, a natural resource ecology and management professor at Iowa State University, is working to make the year-round covered ground a conventional practice.

“My vision is that when we drive around Iowa in December, we don’t see a single bare field,” she said.

While the use of cover crops is growing, it’s far from common. A new grant of up to $80 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will fund a project meant to spur more farmers to plant cover crops and perennial prairie grass through both direct payments and a demonstration of how harvested winter-hearty crops and grass can be processed into renewable natural gas.

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