Special Topics with Cover Crops and Soil Health

2017 National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health

SARE Outreach

National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health logo

Session recordings on this page include:

Organic and Specialty Crops

Weed control in organic soybeans is notoriously difficult. Clean tilled soybeans work in dry years and are a disaster in wet years. Cover crop mulches provide an alternative that is cheaper and provides greater management flexibility. Unfortunately, these successes do not hold for corn and cotton. Come and learn what works with cover crop mulches and the many ways in which you can fail. Additional highlights include:

  • Nitrogen rotation through legume cover crops as a key aspect of organic cash grain production
  • Innovative strategies such as interseeding and organic no-till as options to expand cover crop opportunities and niches
  • Ideas as to how to fit cover crops, particularly legumes, into the farm systems

Danielle Treadwell, University of Florida (PDF)

Chris Reberg-Horton, North Carolina State University (PDF)

Erin Silva, University of Wisconsin (PDF)

Grazing Cover Crops

Early cover crop grazing in the spring combined with late grazing in the fall can reduce livestock feed costs, grow profits, and increase the quality of life for the farmer by reducing the amount of labor needed. Potentially growing two crops in one year on the same piece of land maximizes productivity per acre while building soil health. Highlights of this session include:

  • Nutritional value of cover crops for beef and beef weight gain results while grazing cover crops
  • Aerial seeding of cover crops into corn, soybean, and wheat, and extending the grazing season with cover crops
  • Temporary fence design and monitoring for grazing cover crops
  • How to increase cooperation among crop production and livestock production
  • Profitability in grazing covers and using animals in covers to help soil biology

Justin Zahradka, North Dakota farmer (PDF)

Jimmy Emmons, Oklahoma farmer (PDF)

Soil Health Policy Issues

This session will provide remarks from each of the presenters on both current and needed approaches to federal and state policy as it pertains to soil health. This will include discussion of the connection between conservation and crop insurance, existing Natural Resources Conservation Service programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and state-level opportunities. There will be opportunity for audience questions and discussion with the panel after their remarks. Highlights of this session include:

  • The effect of soil health on general environmental and ag economic health
  • Roadblocks to adoption, including farmer criticism and national policy
  • Challenges over the next three decades to provide food/fiber/fuel while improving global soil health productivity
  • Breaking adherence of cultural norms of present farming standards and looking at the economic impact of well-accomplished soil improvement

Tim Palmer, Iowa farmer

Jim Moseley, Indiana farmer

Ryan Stockwell, National Wildlife Federation (PDF)

The following session recordings are available: