Cover Crop Trend Picks Up Steam in Indiana

Field day next week in west-central Indiana will feature well-known expert talking about how cover crops could benefit your operation.

Published on: Dec 2, 2011

You have to search hard these days to find a straight no-till workshop field day sponsored by a local group to attend. In past years as no-till adoption grew out of its infancy, field days sponsored by many local soil and water conservation districts and Extension Service local offices were responsible for helping teach others how they could make no-till work for them.

Today, however, you won't have any problem finding a cover crops workshop or field day to attend within driving distance. Many believe cover crops are the next step beyond no-till to improve spoil quality and help conserve nutrients, such as valuable nitrogen. It doesn't hurt that many successful farmers, including Mike Starkey and Jack Maloney, both no-till farmers on mostly flat land near Brownsburg, have converted to and heavily promote the value of cover crops.

Lisa Holscher from the Sullivan Soil and Water Conservation district reports that three districts, including Sullivan, Clay and Vigo SWCDs, combined forces last summer to coordinate seeding of nearly 3,500 acres of cover crops. The project was possible thanks to a grant to the three districts form the Clean Water Indiana program.

Besides many fields that were seeded to cover crops in addition to the 3,500 acres seeded as part of the program, plots were also established at the Vigo County fairgrounds. Eleven different cover crops are growing for comparison purposes. These plots will be on display Dec. 6, next week, as part of a workshop sponsored by the cooperating partners. Breakfast is at 7:30 a.m, with the program beginning at 8:30 a.m. and concluding at noon. Seating is limited. Reservations are requested. You can do that by calling the Sullivan County SWCD at 812-268-5157, ext 3, or emailing reservations to: lisa@watershed-alliance.org. You don't have to live in one of the three counties to attend the breakfast and workshop.

One of the featured speakers will be Mike Plumer, a recently retired natural resource educator and researcher from the University of Illinois Extension system. He's now a consultant with Conservation Agriculture, Creal, Ill., near Evansville.

He's very experienced in handling annual rye, especially in the spring. Many consider it one of the toughest cover crops to handle because of its growth potential in the spring.