"Bringing Oats Back to American Farms"

"Adding oats to a farm’s rotation can improve soil health and reduce fossil fuels, but the crop has all but disappeared in the U.S. Now, a nascent movement fueled by oat milk’s popularity may help reverse the trend."

"On a cool, cloudy spring day, Landon Plagge could see hints of what was growing on a 500-acre plot of his Iowa farm.

“Our oats are starting to come up,” he said. “They’re a couple inches tall.” He had already planted a little early corn, experimentally. But he said the ground was still too cold, really, for corn or soybeans. Oats like a cool spring and don’t mind frost, but they do not do well come summer if the temperature gets too hot before harvest.

Plagge farms 4,000 acres in Latimer, Iowa, with his father and uncle, and his oats are a rarity among the nearly endless rows of corn and soybeans in the neighborhood.

Oats once were ubiquitous in Iowa, with 6.5 million acres planted in 1950. But the second half of the 20th century brought myriad changes to Midwest agriculture including the near disappearance of work animals, the separation of livestock from many crop farms, the confinement of chickens and pigs, readily available synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, and federal policy incentives for corn and soybeans that led to significant investment from seed and chemical companies."

Amy Mayer reports for Civil Eats June 12, 2023.

Source: Civil Eats, 06/13/2023