Cover Crops & Soil Science Exchange Dec. 1 in Lewiston

LEWISTON, Minn. — Weed suppression, cover crop seed mixes that work, and what’s next after this wet fall will be the focus of a Land Stewardship Project (LSP) Cover Crop Network meeting on Thursday, Dec. 1, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The meeting will take place at LSP’s Lewiston office, and is free and open to everyone. For more information, contact Caroline van Schaik at 507-523-3366 (ext. 102) or caroline@landstewardshipproject.org.

DIRECTIONS: The LSP office is located at 180 E. Main Street. From I-90, take the Lewiston exit and drive north into town about three miles, cross the railroad tracks, then turn right onto Main Street. The office is on the left near the end of the block.

Other topics to be addressed during this farmer-centered meeting include the role of livestock, short season corn as a way to lengthen the cover crop window of establishment, and seeding methods and timing. Six Cover Crop Network producers representing row crop, small grains, grazing livestock and vegetable production will highlight observations from their participation in a two-year experiment with some of the typical issues related to successful cover crops in southeastern Minnesota. There will be plenty of opportunity to swap experiences so that everyone will come away with some thoughts for next year.

University of Minnesota Extension educator Jim Paulson will be part of the discussion. In addition, LSP staff will present a brief summary of two years of Haney soil health test data from a dozen area farms. The Haney test is a relatively new method of soil analysis that correlates biological activity with soil fertility and management practices.

The Cover Crop Network meets twice a year to exchange real-life lessons about cover cropping and to learn some of the science behind good soil as a critical tool for farm health, profitability and resilience in the face of market and extreme weather challenges. Two-thirds of respondents in the most recent national Cover Crop Survey noted that increased soil health, increased soil organic matter and reduced soil erosion were the top three benefits they saw from planting cover crops on ever-expanding acres. Once again there was a modest bump in corn and soybean yield after cover crops. The vast majority of participants reported little to no drop in financial profitability and significant gain in their fields’ ability to withstand severe weather due to better soil structure.

The meeting is part of LSP’s work to help farmers and landowners keep the soil covered for erosion control, water quality and farm profitability. Funding for this LSP initiative is provided in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Partnership Program.

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