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2015/2016 Report from the Field
Read about SARE-funded work in the areas of sustainable dairy cropping systems, soil health assessments, nutrient management, cover crops, beginning farmers, pollinators, technical assistance programs for women farmers, and more. This edition includes highlights of projects funded through the graduate student program, and the highly regarded Sustainable Agriculture Fellowship, a professional development program coordinated by SARE and NACAA.
Cover Crop Innovators Video Series
Find short video profiles of farmers around the country who are using cover crops on their land.
National Continuing Education Program
This program is designed for Cooperative Extension and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel, and is also open to farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural professionals nationwide. It emphasizes core concepts and a basic understanding of sustainable agriculture, its goals and its relevance to every farming and ranching operation—large or small.
The core of the national continuing education program is a series of three online courses. Take them now.
Systems Research for Agriculture
Practical information for researchers, educators and extension professionals seeking to understand and apply systems research to agriculture.
Cover Crops for Soil Health Workshop
All session recordings and slide presentations from this three-day professional development workshop are available online. Hosted by Northeast SARE and Delaware State University in March 2016, this event addressed the latest research on the benefits and successful management of cover crops in grain, vegetable and animal production systems.
Investing in the Next Generation of Agricultural Scientists
Sustainable solutions to today's agricultural challenges arise when scientists, educators and producers work together to test theories in real-world, on-farm situations. For this approach itself to be sustainable, there must be opportunities for the next generation of agricultural scientists to use collaborative, applied research to address the real-world needs of farmers and ranchers. The SARE Graduate Student grant program is one such opportunity—since 2000, the program has supported the work of 600 master's and Ph.D. students.
The Colorado River irrigates 15 percent of the nation’s crops, making the conservation efforts of Western producers crucial to the American food system. Conservation Generation is a new short film by the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) about four young farmers and ranchers in the arid West who are committed to conservation practices that conserve water and promote soil health.
The Farmer Field Day Toolkit
New to organizing a field day? Take a look at the tips, tools and resources assembled here to help guarantee a successful event.
Cover Crops for Soil Health Workshop
This three-day professional development workshop, hosted by Northeast SARE and Delaware State University in March 2016, addressed the latest research on the benefits and successful management of cover crops in grain, vegetable and animal production systems. All session recordings are available.
Overview of Cover Crop Developments Nationwide
Rob Myers (North Central SARE, University of Missouri) provides a national overview of where cover crops stand, including a review of farmer survey data, new equipment and proposed initiatives.
Cover Crop Planting Dates and Seeding Rates
Matthew Ryan (Cornell University) discusses the necessity of proper establishment timing and seeding rates for maximizing cover crop performance. He explains how knowledge of the interaction between these considerations can provide management flexibility and increase cover cropping success.
Cover Crop Cocktails
Mitch Hunter (Penn State University) discusses the principles of how to assemble different cover crop species into a successful cocktail based on farm management objectives, crop rotation restraints, and which cover crop species traits are complementary.
Establishment Methods for Cover Crops and Cash Crops in Grain Production Systems
Steven Mirsky (USDA-ARS), Greg Roth (Penn State University) and Sjoerd Duiker (Penn State University) discuss common establishment methods for cover crops; the importance of matching the right cover crop species with the right methods; and other topics such as no-till versus tillage; optimal timing of cash crop establishment, drills versus planters, planter and drill attachments and set up; cover crop termination; and planting green.
Fitting Cover Crops in Vegetable Rotations
Ron Morse (Virginia Tech, emeritus) shares how to successfully fit cover crops into a vegetable rotation, including establishment methods, matching the right species to the right methods, recommended rotations and cash crop establishment.
Managing Cover Crops for Ecosystem Services in Vegetable Systems
Natalie Lounsbury (University of New Hampshire) discusses how to manage cover crops for such ecosystem services as: suppressing weeds, attracting pollinators, cycling nutrients, promoting biological diversity and controlling erosion.
Cover Crops: Current and Future Directions
This plenary discussion on current and future directions in cover crops features Greg Roth (Penn State, presenting on behalf of Scott Rushe, Seedway), Ramona Garner (USDA-NRCS Plant Materials Center) and Andrew Smyre (Perdue AgriBusiness). They discuss demand for cover crop seeds, the development of new varieties, and the agribusiness industry's role in supporting cover crops.
Evaluating and Improving Cover Crop Performance and Adoption
In this session, Sjoerd Duiker (Penn State University) discusses the possibility of adoption without government regulation or incentives, and Dean Hively (USGS) reviews the use of remote sensing to map cover crop performance, trends toward increasing wintertime ground cover and watershed-scale performance.
Cover Crops as Part of an Overall Nutrient Management System
In this session, Steven Mirsky (USDA-ARS) and Heather Darby (University of Vermont) discuss the role of cover crops in integrated fertility management and address cover crops in the context of forages, dairies, perennials and pastures, and rotating pasture to grain.
Managing Soil Health With Cover Crops: Beyond the Basics
In this session, leading experts dive deep into the soil-related benefits of cover crops. Ray Weil (University of Maryland) discusses the physical benefits; Michel Cavigelli (USDA-ARS) explains how cover crop management affects soil health; and Stuart Grandy (University of New Hampshire) discusses emerging concepts for harnessing microbes to build organic matter.
Cover Crop Field Tour Recap and Debrief
Attendees of the Cover Crops for Soil Health workshop have a short discussion reflecting on their tour of the long-term farming systems research project at the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland.