A group of eight Minnesota farmers interested in using cover crops to improve the health of their soil and profitability of their farms had a problem—there was scant information on how to manage cover crops in their area, where the growing season is short. But they were willing to lead the way, so in 2014 they joined with the Land Stewardship Project to run on-farm trials funded by a SARE grant. The experience they gained has proven invaluable.
See what these farmers learned—and discover how SARE has supported countless others on their journey toward improved sustainability—in our 30th anniversary report, 30 Years of SARE: Our Farms, Our Future.
Their story is one of eight in 30 Years of SARE that illustrate SAREs’ history of investing in the pioneering farmers, ranchers, researchers and educators who are making American agriculture better equipped to face the challenges of today and tomorrow. Learn about this investment in these critical areas of sustainable agriculture:
- Building soil health with cover crops and other strategies
- The ecology and economics of grazing for beef and dairy
- Water challenges for the coming decades
- The social components of sustainable agriculture
- Integrated approaches for managing crop pests
- Pollinators, wildlife and biodiversity on farms
- Surviving and thriving with vegetable and fruit production
- Sustainable communities through local foods and marketing
For example, in the area of soil health, the Minnesota farmers who worked with the Land Stewardship Project represent one of 1,778 projects that have received a total $76.7 million in research and education grants. Along with cover crops, significant investment areas include crop rotation, conservation tillage and the integration of crops and livestock.
As these Minnesota farmers learned what works and what doesn’t work for their operations when using cover crops, including integrating them with livestock, they affirmed their dedication to soil health. “This SARE project was the starting point for a very strong network of farmers who are innovating, experimenting and finding their work to be rewarding both intellectually and financially,” said Robin Moore of the Land Stewardship Project.