A special field day is coming up next week that will focus on helping growers add cover crops into their operations. The field day on Tuesday, June 25, will feature demonstrations of different cover crops, their benefits, and how farmers can fit them into their operations. Roger Wenning will host the event on his Decatur County farm which will also feature new research on the benefits of using cover crops. Lisa Holscher, CCSI soil health program manager, says research is discovering that cover crops can do more than just improve soil health, “The main focus on the field day will be on soil health, but we will also feature research on how cover crops can be used to suppress weeds and also help with insect pest control.” She added that some of the heavy rains this spring have revealed that cover crops can help with water control in fields, “We have seen two fields side by side, one using cover crops and other not. The cover crop fields held together so much better even with extremely heavy rains.”
Holscher said many of the farmers who will be leading some of workshops have tips on how to begin to integrate cover crops into an existing cropping system, “We will have a number of soil pits so you can see what these systems are doing to the soil, how the cover crops are improving the soil structure and breaking up hardpan.”
One of the keynote presenters is Dr. Dale Mutch, Michigan State University professor of plant, soil and microbial sciences, cover crop Extension specialist. “Dr. Mutch has a large body of research in the use of cover crops in weed and pest management in organic systems,” says Holscher. “We’re talking about concepts that are readily translated into non-organic crop production. I’m looking forward to learning more about how we can add the use of cover crops as a crop protection product.”
The agenda also includes cover crop supplies and sources, aerial seeding, rain simulation, and looking at CCSI strip trials and hub farm reports. “This is a great opportunity to educate producers on the effectiveness of cover crops as a management tool,” says Wenning, who has won state and national awards for his conservation efforts. “We’ll get to the basics and show results by digging soil pits. Farmers will see how continuous no-till, combined with cover crops in a conservation farming system has really worked.”
The day concludes with dinner. The event is free, but registration is required for dinner counts. Register online or call (812) 663-8685, or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District for assistance.