Three Austin-area farms that use cover crops will be part of a free bus tour May 26 offered by Mower Soil & Water Conservation District through a grant promoting the importance of soil health.
Mower County farmers Tom Cotter, Tom Finnegan, and Terry and Cindy Hamilton each will host registered participants on the first Mower Cover Crop Champion/Soil Health Team Tour, covering topics that include harvesting and grazing cover crops, no-till and strip-till planting into terminated cover crops, and herbicide options for conventional corn and soybeans.
Cotter was recently featured in The Farmer for his family’s cover crop and conservation practices
Registration is required for the free field day tour that includes busing and a boxed lunch. Those interested need to RSVP by May 22 to Mower SWCD by either calling 507-434-2603 or sending an email to [email protected].
Cover cropping involves planting a second, unharvested crop in coordination with regular cash crops, such as corn and soybeans. Interest is growing in cover crops throughout Minnesota, and Mower County is helping to highlight their benefits when incorporated into agricultural practices.
Registered participants should arrive by 9 a.m. in Riverland Community College’s east campus parking lot in Austin, along 14th Street Northwest. Attendees will board a school bus about 9:30 a.m. to travel to Finnegan's farm in Red Rock Township; to the Hamiltons' farm in Marshall Township; and to Cotter’s farm in Austin Township. Each site will have one hour to showcase its use of cover crops in the field and — at the Cotter and Finnegan farms — how they help with producing beef cattle.
The bus will depart from the Cotter farm by 1:45 p.m. to head back to Riverland.
Grant generated field day
The field day event is part of an $8,740 grant awarded this year to Mower SWCD by the National Wildlife Federation, which named Mower SWCD resource specialist and soil scientist Steve Lawler as a Cover Crop Champion for outreach. The grant also named Cotter and Finnegan as Cover Crop Champion farmers. The duo has kept a busy schedule the past few months, giving presentations on cover crops to farmers and nonfarmers groups throughout the region.
Get more INSIGHT: Download Cover Crops: Best Management Practices now!
Lawler, who also will be a presenter at the field day tour, has worked closely with Cotter, Finnegan and the Hamiltons since the Mower Soil Health Team formed in early 2016. Formed as part of Mower SWCD’s new soil health initiative, the Mower Soil Health Team consists of producers and agricultural professionals who farm and work in Mower County. Members have working knowledge of cover cropping and reduced tillage systems, and are committed to providing one-on-one outreach to other area producers seeking to learn more about those and other management practices.
Says Lawler: “This is a great opportunity to see and hear about cover crops from farmers who are very involved with them. There are many benefits to farming, the environment and wildlife that come from cover crops.”
According to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, cover crops offer several economic and ecological benefits, such as reduced fertilizer costs, improved soil health and reduced need for herbicides and pesticides.
For more information, visit Mower SWCD's Cover Crop Champion grant webpage.
Source: Mower County SWCD