The 3rd Crop Initiative is the foundation of our work. A third crop is any crop beyond corn and soybeans that is not a row crop. Third crops are intended to be several different types of crops, not just one additional crop. The work of Rural Advantage is focused toward targeting third crops to environmentally sensitive areas of the landscape. Converting environmentally sensitive land, currently in annual tillage, to perennials can result in multiple benefits. Our primary goal, and a result of third crops, is the significant reduction of non-point source pollution loading from agricultural lands in annual tillage. Pollution concerns include nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and pathogens.
Our third crop preference is toward perennials, especially native mixes, although small grains, hay, pasture and cover crops are included. There also are non-crop third crops such as wind energy, eco-tourism, rural artisans, bioenergy, recreation, etc. from which a landowner could benefit.
The premise is to get other crops on the landscape — besides corn and soybeans — that can be working lands, providing economic return to the farm family, ecological services to society and with local processing and markets, build a stronger community.
- Benefits of Third Crops
- Moving Beyond Conventional Cash Cropping
- Third Crop Opportunities
- Using Third Crops to Enhance Soybeans
- Cover Crops
- 3rd Crop Options
- Native Grasses
- Native Plant and Seed Production
- Management Guide for the Production of Switchgrass for Biomass Fuel in Southern Iowa
- Costs of Producing Switchgrass for Biomass in Southern Iowa
- ATTRA — Switchgrass as a Bioenergy Crop
- Management Guide for Biomass Feedstock Production from Switchgrass in the Northern Great Plains
- Iowa State University, Department of Agronomy — Switchgrass
- High Value Hardwoods
- Hybrid Hazelnuts
- Hybrid Poplars
- Woody Decorative Florals