These Programs Will Pay Kansas Farmers for Crops They Won't Harvest

Thursday, August 01, 2019

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (HPPR / KNS) — Three years ago, rancher and farmer Jay Young got intrigued by a YouTube video.

A North Dakota farmer championed the idea of cover crops — plants that would be considered weeds in many other contexts — as robust plants for his cattle to graze on.

Young applied the cover crop strategy – rotating rye, radishes, turnips, oats and barley – to his land just east of the Colorado border. The plants held the soil in place, trapped nutrients in the ground and made the ground nicely spongy.

Partly as a way to prop up farmers who lost crops to flooding this spring, and partly as a way to protect the soil, a federal farm program now offers farmers in 67 flooded Kansas counties from $30 to $45 an acre to put down cover crops.

Meantime, a fledgling private effort is beginning to offer another cover crop bonus: payments intended to capture more carbon in the soil and reduce greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.

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