Workshop on Roller-crimping Cover Crops to Feature UW’s Dr. Erin Silva & Local Farmers March 7 in Rushford

RUSHFORD, Minn. — A special Land Stewardship Project workshop on how conventional and organic farmers can utilize the roller-crimper to build soil health and suppress weeds will be held Thursday, March 7, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Rushford (103 N. Mill Street). During the workshop, Dr. Erin Silva of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a panel of local farmers will share their knowledge of this innovative practice and how it can be applied on area farms. The event registration starts at 9:30 a.m., with the program running from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The cost is $20 ($10 for students and additional family members), which includes a noon lunch catered by Estelle’s Restaurant. For more information and to RSVP by March 5, contact LSP’s Shona Snater at 507-523-3366 or ssnater@landstewardshipproject.org.

Directions: From I-90, take Exit 249 towards Rushford and head south on MN-43 for 9.5 miles. The church is in town on the right. Look for event signs.

In recent years, the roller-crimper has emerged as a useful tool that, when combined with cover cropping, suppresses weeds and builds organic matter. For conventional growers, this can mean a reduction in herbicide use, and for organic growers, less reliance on tillage for weed control. Since the method is relatively new, there are many questions being generated, such as: how many pounds to the acre of winter rye cover crop is needed and what is the optimum timing for planting soybeans and then terminating the rye?

Dr. Silva is an assistant professor with the UW Department of Plant Pathology and is an expert in the field of planting soybeans into winter rye and then terminating the rye with the roller-crimper. She has developed new roller-crimping techniques to further weed suppression, improve soybean stands and maintain average yield, all while building soil.

“Organic no-till production continues to grow, not only among organic farmers, but also among conventional farmers wanting to integrate cover crops and alternative weed management strategies into their farming strategies,” said Silva.

The workshop’s local farm panelists include: Jon Jovaag from Austin, Minn., who grows organic and conventional crops and has experience roller-crimping rye; Curt Tvedt of Byron, Minn., who has roller-crimped winter rye ahead of soybeans for several years and has tested out a soybean roller and a culti-packer instead of the roller-crimper; Mark Klinski of Caledonia, Minn., who raises organic, food-grade soybeans, seeded soybeans into roller-crimped rye this year, and experimented with planting soybeans into spring-seeded winter rye; and Clifford Johnson of Paynesville, MN grows 2000 acres of certified organic corn, soybeans, canning crops, and cover crops and has been roller-crimping winter rye before his soybeans for 4 years across 500 acres.

Other workshop highlights include new research and yield results on roller-crimped soybeans from the University of Wisconsin, local farmers sharing their experiences, a discussion about the benefits of roller-crimping winter rye and lots of farmer-to-farmer discussion.

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