TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Conversations about the benefits of cover crops continue to be a hot topic.
That’s why Ceres Solutions held the Advanced Cover Crop Training event to provide more information and resources about adding cover crops.
“Ceres Solutions is finding it important to educate their staff more because more people have questions and there’s a lot of information out there,” said Conservation Specialist for Ceres Solutions, Sina Parks. “They want to help make sure their staff can help their customers to the best of their abilities.”
Parks said Ceres Solutions has seen an increase in people wanting to know more about cover crops. She said many farmers are curious about the benefits cover crops can provide.
“Some of the things that we get asked questions about is they want to add cover crops to their operation and where they should add those cover crops, or what type of cover crops they should add,” said Parks. “So we start by asking them what their goal is, what do they want to accomplish with those cover crops and then from there we can help them determine what the right species will be for them to add to their farm.”
One of the speakers at the Advanced Cover Crop Training day was Vermillion County Farmer, Carter Morgan.
“I can help others minimize mistakes because we’ve either made a mistake ourselves, or I know someone else who has made a mistake,” said Morgan. “So it can help peer-to-peer education.”
Morgan and his family implemented cover crops on their farm back in 2011.
“In 2011 my dad, uncle and brother started implementing cover crops on about 150 acres,” said Morgan. “When I came back to the farm in 2013 we started to grow other acres.”
For Morgan, one of the main reasons they decided to use cover crops was to minimize erosion.
“We’ve got some rolling soils and we really wanted our soil to stay in place because we know there’s value in that in nutrients and chemicals that are in the top,” said Morgan. “So once we learned that we kept that soil in place, another benefit we noticed was that we had minimized our weed pressures in our fields.”
Because of that, Morgan said in some fields they were able to minimize their herbicide use.
“Also within all that we started noticing that the water was going into the ground as opposed to running off the ground when we would get a rain,” said Morgan. “If we did get a big enough rain, the water leaving our farm was clear as opposed to muddy.”
Morgan also works with the local soil and water conservation district as a soil health consultant. He promotes conservation efforts like no-till, cover crops and nutrient management.
Parks says taking care of the land is what it’s all about.
“One of the things that’s becoming more important is water quality, nutrient management and erosion,” said Parks. “So in some areas for some farmers it makes sense for them to start adding more practices such as cover crops, no-till and nutrient management.”
For farmers considering using cover crops, Morgan’s advice is to start small.
“Start will some smaller areas and probably starts with your worst acres,” said Moran. “Also get with someone who has done it before, like a neighboring farmer, and ask them questions or even a local Ceres representative.”
For Ceres Solutions, the two lead cover crops are cereal rye and an oat/radish mix.
Parks says when farmers consider adding cover crops, the cost of it comes to mind. Parks said that’s where Ceres Solutions can help.
“It’s not free to make this change for them and it does affect their overall operating expenses sometimes to make these changes,” said Parks. “So I can help them find solutions to offset some of those costs if they want to try a new practice.”