The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), a 41-year-old agriculture conservation nonprofit, is partnering with Farmers for Soil Health (FSH), a new program devoted to increasing the usage of cover crops on corn and soybean acres. Today, cover crops are used on 15.4 million acres, which is only about 6% of U.S. cropland, according to the 2017 USDA Census of Ag.
CTIC is a hub for information and ideas that advance and promote conservation agriculture systems that help people along the agricultural supply chain achieve their economic and environmental sustainability goals. CTIC will provide increased technical assistance to farmers participating in FSH in three states: Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota and is partnering with the state soybean association in all three states to promote the program.
The FSH program will provide payments for new and existing cover crop users. CTIC has a goal of signing up 30,000 acres of cover crops in South Dakota during the first three years of the FSH program. Farmers can visit farmersforsoilhealth.org to sign up or get more information.
In South Dakota, CTIC has hired Julia Gerlach to work with farmers across the state. Gerlach is a former executive editor for Lessiter Media, the publisher of No-Till Farmer, a longstanding publication focused on conservation ag practices and concepts.
“The South Dakota Soybean Association is excited to partner with CTIC on the Farmers for Soil Health initiative,” says Jerry Schmitz, executive director for the South Dakota Soybean Association. “Enhancing farms by incorporating economically and ecologically beneficial soil practices, such as cover crops, provides many benefits in the short term while contributing to the success of future generations of farm families.”
To introduce attendees to the FSH platform and answer any questions about the program, Gerlach will exhibit in booth 3609 at Dakotafest, which will be taking place Aug. 15-17 in Mitchell, S.D.
“Cover crops are vital to improving soil health, but they can be tricky to incorporate into a farmer’s rotation” says Ryan Heiniger, executive director of CTIC. “CTIC can help farmers figure out not just the what, when and how of making the right cover crop choices, but also the why. We are excited to have Julia on the team and think she will be a vital part of this project in South Dakota.”
FSH is a collaboration between the National Corn Growers Association, the National Pork Association and the United Soybean Board. FSH is being funded by Climate Smart Commodity grants from USDA.
CTIC is a 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and provides information on climate smart technologies and sustainable agricultural systems that conserve and enhance soil, water, air and wildlife resources and are productive and profitable. The organization was founded in 1982 to support the widespread use of economically and environmentally beneficial agricultural systems.