Cover Crop Farmers to Offer Advice at Farm Progress Show

Farmers attending the Farm Progress Show will have a chance to get practical advice from fellow farmers about integrating cover crop seeding and management practices into their operations.

The Illinois Stewardship Alliance is partnering with American Farmland Trust and the Practical Farmers of Iowa to bring in farmers from Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana who are experienced in using cover crops on a variety of farms.

“We think the best way to learn about farming is from other farmers,” Jen Filipiak, ISA conservation associate, said.  “The farmers at our table all have practical experience managing different kinds of cover crops, and have graciously offered their time to talk with other farmers stopping by our table.”

The farming operations represented showcase the diversity in farming in the Midwest.  Acreage ranges from 400-1000 acres, and crops range from the conventional corn-bean rotation, to fully certified organic, to diverse produce and livestock operations.

“The folks we’ll have at our table have used cover crops with different tillage practices – from conventional tillage to a decade or more of no-till,” Mike Baise, American Farmland Trust Midwest Director, said. “The species and management of their cover crops varies – organic farmers can use them for weed suppression and corngrowers are focused on nitrogen scavenging.  And of course, improving overall soil health is a benefit to every farm.”

“In Iowa, we’ve been working with farmers to answer their most pressing cover crop needs by helping them conduct robust on-farm research, using randomized and replicated trials, and communicating their research needs to university scientists and funders,” explained Sarah Carlson, Midwest Cover Crop  Research Coordinator for Practical Farmers of Iowa.  “We’re expanding the lessons we’ve learned to partners working on cover crops in other states, and look forward to sharing our experiences at the Farm Progress Show.”

The ISA-AFT-PFI table is at the entrance to the “Partners in Conservation Tent”, located by Gate 6 on East Progress Avenue.  The 2013 Farm Progress show runs from August 27-29 and the ISA-AFT-PFI table is open for business all three days.

MEET A FEW OF THE FARMERS

  • Marcus Maier is a fourth generation farmer in Livingston County, Illinois.  He farms 450 acres of primarily corn and soybeans (with a few acres of pasture) – no livestock (yet). He no-tills soybeans, minimum tills corn, uses spring applied 28% as nitrogen source, and has a seed corn test plot. The Maiers use cover crops to improve soil health, control surface erosion, and suppress weeds.      
  • Joe Rothermel farms 1000 acres of corn, soybeans, and occasionally wheat in Champaign County, Illinois.  The Rothermels have used no-till continuously for 21 years and incorporated cover crops for the last 4.  The ultimate goal of using cover crops is to improve overall soil health, and in the meantime reap the benefits of erosion control, improved fertility, nitrogen scavenging and weed suppression.
  • Mark Peterson farms 400 acres in hilly Montgomery County, Iowa.  His operation consists of corn, soybeans, and cereal rye. He uses cover crops for erosion control, nutrient stabilization, and building organic matter.
  • Tom Yucus farms 480 acres in Lee County, Illinois.  Tom started converting his corn/bean/oats operation to organic in 2005 and has been 100% certified organic since 2010. He now works with a corn/beans/rye rotation and uses cover crops for nutrient management, to address soil compaction and to provide weed suppression.
  • Dave Bishop’s PrairiErth Farm is a 400 acre multi-generational organic farm in Logan County, Illinois.  The Bishops produce corn, soybeans, oats, wheat, forages, vegetables, beef, pork, chicken and eggs, believing that diversity is a key element of sustainable agronomic practices and maintaining consistent profitability.  Cover crops are used extensively to add/retain fertility, suppress weeds, and generally improve soil health.  Cover crops also allow them to graze the row crop fields, which further diversifies income. 

American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch land, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and supporting a sustainable future for farms. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.

Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call 515.232.5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.