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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Successful cover crop field day at the Institute

Local farmers, both conventional and organic, as well as, people from as far away as Chicago, spent a recent afternoon at a cover crops field day at the MFAI Research Farm. Dr. Erin Silva, an Organic Production Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was one of the presenters. She discussed the many benefits of cover-cropping. Silva started the field day with a basic explanation about cover crops and their help offering multiple ecosystem benefits, such as, suppressing and smothering weeds, improvement the soil quality and the benefits with respect to pollinators. Greg Igl, from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of United States Department of Agriculture, provided some examples about what kind of funding is available for cover-cropping. Also, Jim Stute, from University of Wisconsin Extension, presented information about crop rotations, fertility and the particular benefits of some cover crops, such as, red clover or corn. The attendees viewed several cover-crop demonstration plots and visit a field where soybeans were planted into a winter rye cover crop. The presenters emphasized the versatility of cover-cropping and the way these crops can fit wherever the farmer sees opportunity. Dr. Erin Silva also highlighted some relevant aspects: when each cover crop has to be planted or the benefits of no-till organic production. The farmers also had an opportunity to get a look at some of the research equipment, in particular, a roller crimper used in no-till organic production at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.