Growing Alternative Crops in Iowa can Bring Risks and Rewards
Many Iowa farmers are seeking alternatives to just corn and soybeans as a way to reduce risk, replenish the soil and improve water quality.
But before considering a new crop, farmers want to know there is a market for it on the other end.
For Tom Frantzen, his market is himself. The hybrid rye he’s been growing in New Hampton gets fed to his organic hogs and cattle, saving him money on more expensive corn feed.
“It’s about $200 per acre less cost than an acre of corn,” Frantzen said. “The seed is less expensive, there’s no need for federal crop insurance and no grain drying. And in an organic environment, there’s no need for weed control. They (farmers) need to figure out a way to put it into the rotation and the (livestock) diet.”
In this report, we’ll explore four alternative crops — hemp, hybrid rye, Kernza and oats — focusing on each crop’s advantages, disadvantages, producers and potential markets.