In February, Illinois agriculture professionals gathered at the Illinois Soybean Association in Bloomington for the third session of the 2022-23 Advanced Soil Health Training (ASHT) hosted by the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership (ISAP). The third session in the training series provided education to participants on cover crops and cover crop management.
This two-day intensive classroom workshop began with Stacy Zuber, NRCS Soil Health Specialist, presenting information to participants on the benefits of cover crops, management strategies, and highlighting key benefits of various cover crop species. In her presentation, Zuber dug into information on seeding methods and considerations, the USDA Cover Crop Chart, and different cover crop termination methods. Following Zuber, Dan Smith, University of Wisconsin-Madison Nutrient and Pest Management Program Southwest Regional Specialist, presented and discussed research in Wisconsin on interseeding cover crops. Attendees had the opportunity to learn Daniel’s recipe for interseeding success, which included sharing photographed examples of specialized equipment and drill modifications used by farmers.
Next, Scott Wohltman, DLF Pickseed USA Regional Wholesale Lead, presented an overview of the cover crop industry. Scott provided the cohort with valuable information regarding where cover crop seeds are sourced and the logistical needs and regulations in the seed industry. Following Scott’s presentation, the first day of training was concluded with an industry panel discussion, which featured farmers, industry leaders, and seed dealers, drawing from their personal experiences to share suggestions for participants on how to work with farmers and landowners to encourage cover crop adoption. This gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions and connect with individuals with first-hand experience growing or selling cover crops.
The second day of this two-day session was open to the public, and many participants brought with them coworkers or farmers from their network to participate in the cohort. This session started off with an in-depth discussion by ISAP Soil Health Specialist, Jim Isermann, on cover crop goal setting and species selection. Attendees then heard from Dave Olson, who shared his personal experiences using and selling cover crops as a cover crop seed dealer and farmer in Vermillion County. Both presentations provided a thorough background for anyone interested in adopting cover crops.
Building on knowledge gained during the first day of presentations, participants heard detailed information on legume management and cover crop selection from Nathan Johanning, University of Illinois Extension Commercial Agriculture Educator. Nathan explained the key benefits of various legume cover crops to attendees and discussed variety selection and using legumes in a cover crop mix. Additionally, participants also heard from Nathan about the Midwest Cover Crop Council, including going through a walk-through tutorial with participants on how to utilize the cover crop decision tool.
Wrapping up the second day of the February training, Abigail Peterson, Illinois Soybean Association Director of Agronomy, kicked off the afternoon session by sharing cover crop seeding techniques with attendees. This was followed by a presentation by Pete Fandel, Illinois Central College Agriculture Professor, explaining herbicide residuals and cover crop termination techniques. Participants learned about herbicide carryover, guidelines for using herbicides, and key tips and strategies for cover crop termination.
This third training marks the half way period of the 2022-2023 Advanced Soil Health Training. Stay tuned to hear more about the cohort’s remaining training sessions!