Though little rain fell from the sky last summer across central Ohio, David Brandt’s healthy soil delivered what the sky could not — moisture to his corn crop.

While other farmers in the area averaged only 60-70 bushels of corn per acre, Brandt’s yield was nearly twice that. He credits the difference to the health and vitality of his soil — through the use of cover crops.

The results from a recent survey confirm that soil health-building cover crops delivered for many others affected by the drought, too.

More than 750 farmers, primarily from the drought-stricken upper Mississippi River watershed, responded last winter to a survey conducted by the USDA North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and the Conservation Technology Information Center.

While average yield differences reported were not as dramatic as those experienced by Brandt — who has been farming with cover crops and other soil health-improving techniques for decades — farmers who planted corn after cover crops had a 9.6 percent increase in yield compared to side-by-side fields with no cover crops. Likewise, soybean yields were improved 11.6 percent following cover crops, according to the survey.