LSP 'Farm Focus' Event to Spotlight Cover Crops & Soil Health Jan. 27 in St. Charles

ST. CHARLES, Minn. — Exploring on-farm experiences with cover cropping and building soil health is the aim of a Land Stewardship Project (LSP) workshop Friday, Jan. 27, at the St. Charles Community Center (830 Whitewater Ave). The “Farm Focus” event is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.—registration opens at 9:45 a.m.—and the cost is $15 ($10 for additional family or farm members). A noon meal is covered by the fee. To reserve a meal, contact LSP’s Shona Snater by Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 507-523-3366 or ssnater@landstewardshipproject.org.

The event features four southern Minnesota farmers with a combined 35-plus years of cover-cropping experience and research behind them. The keynote speaker will be Lakefield, Minn., farmer, Jerry Ackermann. Ackermann raises row crops and alfalfa and has cover crops planted on 100 percent of his strip-till corn and no-till soybean acres. His on-farm research over the past 18 years has been conducted in conjunction with numerous agencies and organizations, including the University of Minnesota, USDA-SARE and the National Wildlife Federation. That research has looked at the effects of cover cropping and reduced tillage practices on yields, water infiltration rates and weed suppression.

Presentations from southeastern Minnesota farmers will be a major priority for the day as well. Tom Cotter, a row crop and beef farmer from Austin, Minn., will describe his extensive cover crop “cocktail” experience and experiments with interseeding rye into corn at the V-6 stage. Tom Finnegan, a beef and crops farmer from Austin, will address building soil quality with multi-species cover crops and fall/winter grazing of cover crops. Jack Stamschror, a dairy farmer from Kellogg, Minn., will present his experience looking at the effects of cover crops on weed suppression and yields, as well as no-tilling soybeans into rye.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for farmers to be learning from one another," said LSP's Doug Nopar. "Among our presenters is a boatload of great knowledge and experience.”

Nopar added that local farmers attending the workshop interested in discussing their own experiences with cover crops and building soil health will be invited to do so.

An additional LSP cover crops and soil health workshop has been set for Caledonia, Minn., on Feb.15, featuring the Rodale Institute’s chief scientist and soil microbiologist, Dr. Kristine Nichols, as well as a local farm panel.

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