This project aimed to promote the implementation of cover crops and no-till on acres that have had manure application with the goal of reducing the loss of nitrogen, phosphorus, and soil and improving soil health. Working with producers, the project set up demonstration sites and field days as well as small scale farmer-to-farmer meetings to create opportunities to share knowledge of first-hand experiences related to small grains, cover crops, and cropland conversion to pasture. The field days and meetings helped educate producers and landowners about the economics and erosion associated with cropping steep, marginal cropland with the goal of converting it to pasture or hayland. Work was also done to promote the addition of a small grain to a corn-soybean rotation and educate landowners and producers about how conservation provisions included in farm leases can help to encourage and facilitate conservation practice implementation.
How can we overcome barriers to implementation of small grains, cover crops on acres with manure application, and cropland conversion to pasture?
Through multiple outreach methods including direct mailings, posters, and field days, the project objectives were achieved. The producers who started using the different practices are continuing the practices. This indicates that they see some value in doing them. Some are receiving cost-share and others have chosen not to. Using cost-share information for the county and local famer partner information, acreage goals for cover crops, no-till, conservation to hay, and extended rotations with small grains were all exceeded. An additional outcome from this project included assisting several landowners to update their conservation plans, but few chose to include them in their leases at this time. However, the first step was getting them to have a written lease.
Year of Grant Completion
Berges, Sara, "Innovative Conservation Agriculture" (2019). Leopold Center Completed Grant Reports. 543.