CHATFIELD, Minn. — Farmers and landowners gearing up for cover crops this year are invited to learn from innovative area farmers at a free Land Stewardship Project (LSP) “Spring Prep!” program Thursday, March 3, in Chatfield. The program will be held at the United Methodist Church (124 Winona St. SE) from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and will include the director of soil health at Nebraska’s Ward Labs, as well as a University of Minnesota forage scientist and area seed representatives. For more information, contact LSP’s Caroline van Schaik at 507-523-3366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DIRECTIONS: The church is located two blocks northeast of H52, between 1st and 2nd streets SE.
Topics covered include what’s new for cover crop seed options, experimental planting practices and seed combinations, and why planting more than one species is a better idea. Lance Gunderson of Ward Labs will discuss the interactions between plants and soil microbes, and U of M forage agronomist Scotty Wells will describe his research on select cover crop species. Seed dealers will be on hand with catalogs and highlights of what’s new this year.
The meeting is one of a series of opportunities organized by LSP for farmers to learn together why good soil is critical to farm health and resiliency over both the short and long term. LSP is currently hosting a cover crops network and a Haney soil health testing program, and during the March 3 event farmers participating in these initiatives will address aspects such as adapted machinery, species mixes, experimental planting dates and soil test findings.
The Haney Test gives producers a field-specific look at information that correlates biological activity with soil fertility and management practices. Ward Labs is conducting the analyses for LSP program participants.
Six area producers representing row crop, grazing livestock and vegetable production have completed the first of a two-year LSP research program to explore some of the typical issues related to cover crop establishment in southeastern Minnesota. The use of early maturing corn, various cover crop mixes, inter-seeding, and “bio-drilling” plants on conventional and organic operations form the core areas of demonstration and research.
Funding for this LSP initiative is provided in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Partnership Program and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.