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Michael Fields Agricultural Institute logo
At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

2015 Wisconsin Cover Crops Conference a Success!

East Troy, WI – On Friday, August 14, 2015, the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, in collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Service of WI, UW-Extension, and Organic Valley hosted the 2015 WI Cover Crops Conference. With over 65 participants, plenary sessions from practitioners and academics, and 3 distinct cover crops tours catering to different agricultural operations structures, the conference had a little something for all attendees.

Daniel DeSutter of DeSutter Farms in Attica, IN started the day off with a great talk about resilience in agriculture, spurring the crowd to action by challenging them to do, in their respective operations, what others posited could not be done. He discussed how selecting, planting, and terminating cover crops correctly could have positive impacts on soil health and yield as well as how maintaining the health of microbial life found in soils is just as important as maintaining the health of conventional livestock.

Dr. Bill Bland from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Soils Science Department had a fascinating talk that focused on cover crops as a central player of three very important issues to agriculture and climate change: Adaptation, Mitigation, and Expanding season options.

Brian Briski and Matt Rataczak of NRCS WI discussed soil organic matter and the beneficial role that cover crops play in building up SOM. They also discussed the many programs that NRCS WI provides to assist producers with conservation work, specifically the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program for those looking to increase on-farm soil health.

There were three tours which covered:

  1. Cover Crops in Organic, no-till systems (MFAI’s North Research Farm)
  2. Cover Crops in no-till and strip-till systems (Lang Manor Farm – Palmyra, WI)
  3. Cover Crops in Organic fresh market production (Turtle Creek Gardens – Delevan, WI)

All three tours were well attended and had amazing guides who gave participants useful information on different cover cropping strategies in each type farming operation.

Thanks to all of our farm tour guides – Jim Stute and Erin Silva at MFAI, Tom Novak, Tom Burlingham, and Nick Kau at Lang Manor Farm, and Janet Gamble and Steve Tomlins at Turtle Creek Gardens.

Last, but not least, thank you to the caterers – Toothpicks Catering for breakfast and Wild Flour Bakery for lunch – that provided such delicious food for attendees and staff.

We at Michael Fields, are looking forward to the next Cover Crops Conference and can’t wait to seeing you there!

Be sure to check out our Twitter and Facebook pages for pictures and links to speaker presentation videos!