Cover crops can make major changes to the soil, including improving soil biology, increasing water infiltration, enhancing soil aggregation, and more. A special grower panel will be held during the 2021 Fall National Cover Crop Summit to discuss what covers can do when it comes to soil health.

Jim Denys, Parkhill, Ont., credits cover crops, no-till and strip-till with saving him $132 per acre on the nearly 2,000 acres he manages, where he grows conventional soybeans, winter wheat (soft red and white), corn and navy beans on a rotation. He also finishes 7,000 hogs per year. Denys has used cover crops to mitigate soil compaction and wind erosion for 7 years. He uses a 7-way cover crop mix, including oats, cereal rye, radish, fava beans, kale, turnips and canola to mix up root depths. Crops are fertilized with manure from the swine operation. Regular soil tests have shown that Denys’ efforts have successfully halted the decline in organic matter at 3%. He hopes to raise the organic matter level in the next 5 years. Denys credits improved soil biology with helping crop residue break down quicker. In addition, he has seen  yields increase on all crops.

Dean Jackson, Columbia Crossroads, Penn., uses rye grass as a cover crop to retain nutrients in the soil, improve water quality, increase soil health, prevent erosion, control weeds, reduce soil compaction and improve soil fertility on his 920-acre dairy. The third-generation dairyman has used no-till and rotational grazing for his 90-cow registered Holstein dairy herd since 2002. Jackson calls himself a cowman, but a conservationist first. He raises corn, soybeans, oats and wheat and fertilizes the cover crops with liquid manure from the dairy.

Lucinda Stuenkel, Palmer, Kan., uses cover crops for grazing on her 60-cow beef operation. She specifically uses covers to reduce erosion and add nutrients for the wheat cash crop. Her wheat yields have seen a boost because of seeding cover crops. She uses a spring mix for grazing that includes spring oats, Austrian winter peas, and hybrid kale. Her summer cover crop mix is comprised of cowpeas, mung beans, sunn hemp, sorghum sudangrass, pearl millet, Japanese millet, Clemson spineless okra, sunflowers and buckwheat. A third grazing mix seeded in the fall carries her cattle herd through the winter, including winter triticale, spring oats, hairy vetch, spring forage peas, crimson clover, annual ryegrass, tillage radish, turnip and collards.

The 2021 Fall National Cover Crop Summit will be held on November 16-17. This free, 2-day virtual event will feature 7 sessions sharing ideas and tips from crop industry experts and growers who are experienced using covers to maximize economic and soil-health building benefits.

To provide attendees with an educational experience to fit their specific needs and schedule, there are two registration options for this event:

Standard access is free and provides attendees with access to each of the 7 fall summit on-demand video sessions for 2 DAYS ONLY, Nov. 16-17, 2021.

An all-access registration is available for $49 and gives attendees 12 months of access to all event presentations, access to an extensive library of presentations from past National Cover Crop Summits, plus a package of valuable attendee bonuses including 6 Cover Crop Management reports offering practical tips and ideas on a variety of critical cover crop topics. Registration and program details can be found here.

Title sponsors making the National Cover Crop Summit possible include Montag Mfg., Kelly Tillage System, MidWest Bio-Tech, Underground Agriculture, Progressive Ag Innovations and M&S Ag Solutions.