Internationally Known Soil Health Expert Featured at Cover Crops Workshop Feb. 15 in Caledonia

CALEDONIA, Minn. — Building soil health and integrating cover crops on area farming operations is the focus of a Land Stewardship Project (LSP) workshop Wednesday, Feb. 15, at the Good Times Restaurant in Caledonia (118 Bissen Street). The keynote speaker is Dr. Kristine Nichols, chief scientist at the Rodale Institute and an internationally known soil microbiologist. The workshop 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 Monday, Feb. 13, at 507-523-3366 or

DIRECTIONS: from MN 44/MN 76 in Caledonia, turn east onto Old Highway Drive, then take the first right onto Bissen Street.

Nichols will address key methods for improving soil biology and the impact of cover crops, rotations, tillage and grazing on soil health. Nichols, who grew up on a farm in southwestern Minnesota, does research focusing on farming methods that improve soil aggregation, water infiltration and soil glomalin formation. Before joining Rodale, Nichols was a soil microbiologist with the USDA for 14 years in Maryland and North Dakota. The work she and the Burleigh County Soil Health Team did in North Dakota attracted the attention of farmers and scientists from around the world.

“Kris Nichols is one of those rare researchers whose work is grounded in real-life farming, with farming examples to draw from throughout the Midwest,” said LSP’s Doug Nopar.

The workshop will also feature a local farm panel consisting of crop producer Myron Sylling of Spring Grove, Minn., and dairy farmer Olaf Haugen of Canton, Minn. During the panel, Sylling will share five-plus years of cover cropping experience and discuss no-till drilling of cover crops and cover crop mixes after corn and soybean harvest. Haugen will focus on his use of cover crops, alternative forages and grazing to build soil productivity and profitability.

Local farmers attending the workshop interested in discussing their own experiences with cover crops and building soil health will be invited to do so. Audience members will also have the opportunity to provide input into the Land Stewardship Project’s federal farm policy reform efforts leading up to the 2018 Farm Bill.