Illinois officials are kicking off a three-year project aimed at encouraging farmers to plant environmentally friendly cover crops as part of an effort to boost sustainable farming around the state. The Illinois Department of Agriculture says the demonstration involves planting certain crops such as grasses and legumes in fields after the regular growing season. Sometimes the seeds are even planted before a crop is harvested. The cover crops reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff from farm fields, which in turn improve water and soil quality. Officials say the project will begin this fall when 14 highly visible corn and soybean fields are seeded with cover crops. The fields were selected because they're along interstates or state highways. Each plot will be accompanied by a sign with the project's website: covercrops.illinois.gov.
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