Free workshops focused on cover crops and soil health are continuing to be offered in southern Minnesota this winter in hopes of attracting farmers and agricultural landowners.
“Cover Crops 101” – a free workshop organized by Mower Soil & Water Conservation District – is set for 9:30 a.m. at Blooming Prairie’s City Center, 138 U.S. Hwy. 218. Coffee will be served starting at 9 a.m., with soil-health partners and programs presenting from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. before the main “101” presentation from 10 a.m. to noon. Pizza will be served afterward.
Austin-area farmer Tom Cotter and seed dealer TJ Kartes, of Saddle Butte in Blooming Prairie, will give the “101” presentation similar to other workshops they have given in the area in recent years, including earlier this month in Grand Meadow.
During the “partners and programs” portion, Northern Country Coop will discuss Truterra, a customized agricultural service tool that local agronomists are using to improve sustainability planning on farms. Northern Country – Mower SWCD’s 2021 Outstanding Conservationists of the Year – is helping area farmers use this new technology to make farming more profitable through conservation measures on their land.
With carbon markets coming online, Northern Country can help farmers use Truterra and streamline the information to enable farmers to make decisions on how they can take credit for their stewardship work and help plan for what they can do in the future.
Event sponsors are Mower SWCD; Saddle Butte; Superior Cannabis Co.; and Midwest Machinery.
Cover crops – such as cereal rye, oats and winter wheat – usually are planted in coordination with regular cash crops – commonly corn and soybeans – to temporarily protect cropland from wind and water erosion as well as give living roots to the soil during times when cropland often doesn’t have adequate protection, according to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Cover crops can support healthy soils and cropland sustainability efforts and are viewed as tools to keep soil in place; bolster soil health; improve water quality; increase stormwater infiltration in soil; and reduce pollution from ag activities.
“Cover Crops 101” sessions have been helpful events to provide quality information and experiences with cover crops to farmers and ag landowners as well as generate informal discussions about soil health in general. They will discuss cover crop seed origination; species and species mixes; step-by-step production; and the value of cover crop technology, among other topics.
In February, the “I-90 Soil Health Tour” will stop in Albert Lea for a free workshop Feb. 9 at Wedgewood Cove, 2200 West Ninth St. Soil-health practices that benefit the soil, environment, crop yield and more will be the focus.
Guest speakers at the “I-90 Soil Health Tour” events will include Mitchell Hora, an Iowa farmer and podcast host of “Field Work;” Dean Sponheim, a northern Iowa farmer with strip-till and cover crop experience; and Anne Sawyer, a University Minnesota extension educator in water resources and expert on carbon’s function in soil. The tour also is making stops Feb. 8 in Hokah; Feb. 10 in Fairmont; and Feb. 11 in Heron Lake.
For the Albert Lea event, RSVPs are required by Jan. 28 for lunch. Contact Freeborn SWCD’s Lindsey Zeitler at 507-320-3728 or by email at: [email protected]
Mower SWCD also is working with partners to offer additional soil-health workshops this winter in southeast Minnesota.