Cover Crops, No-Till & Grazing: Evaluating the Economics & First Steps to Improving Soil

  • Peace United Methodist Church, 52497 275th Ave., Elgin, MN 55932
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  • RSVP to Liana Nichols, 507-523-3366, lnichols@landstewardshipproject.org

A Land Stewardship Project (LSP) workshop called, “Cover Crops, No-Till & Grazing: Evaluating the Economics and First Steps to Improving Soil Health” will be held Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Peace United Methodist Church between Plainview and Elgin. Co-sponsored by the Wabasha County Soil and Water Conservation District, the workshop will feature presentations by southwestern Minnesota farmers Grant and Dawn Breitkreutz, along with southeastern Minnesota farmers Tom Cotter and Myron Sylling. The cost is $15 per person ($10 for an additional farm partner, and $30/family), which includes a lunch featuring local foods. To register by Jan. 27, contact LSP’s Liana Nichols at 507-523-3366 or via e-mail.

Directions: From U.S. Highway 14, turn north onto MN-42 just west of Eyota. Follow MN-42 for 20 miles into Elgin. Continue on MN-42 for 2 miles northeast out of Elgin and then turn south on 275th Ave. The church is ¼ mile down on your right.

This workshop will also be offered in Ridgeway, Iowa (10 miles west of Decorah), on Jan. 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will include a panel with Northeast Iowa farmers Parker Beard, Mark and Ethan Imoehl, and Jerome Fulsaas. Image

Between the testimonials of pioneering farmers like Gabe Brown, the media buzz and new research around the benefits of soil health and farm profitability, area farmers are looking to take steps to build soil through practices like no-till, cover cropping, and rotational grazing. Yet, new practices bring their share of challenges, successes, and even failures. The farmers presenting at the Jan. 29 workshop will address this learning curve with stories from their own operations.

In their 20 years of farming in Redwood County, the Breitkreutzes have made great strides toward regenerating their soils by practicing no-till row cropping and managed rotational grazing, as well as diversified cover cropping. They believe that soil health and regenerative agriculture should not be considered an expense—everything they do on their land has an economic return plus a soil health benefit.

Their presentation will be followed up by a group discussion and presentations from Cotter and Sylling on their own experiences with soil building methods such as cover cropping, reduced tillage, and rotational grazing. Cotter, from Austin, raises no-till and strip-till conventional corn and soybeans, as well as sweet corn and peas, and is transitioning some land to organic. His family also raises beef cattle and they incorporate practices such as cover crop grazing, interseeding covers into corn, and growing a warm season cover crop. Sylling, who farms near Spring Grove, is a long-time cash grain producer who has been no-tilling for 20 years and using cover crops intensively for the past seven years.

For a copy of the event flier, click here.