Blake Vince, no-till grain farmer from Ontario, showcases a latex cast of earthworm burrows, old root canals, and cracks and fissures from his soil with PSU Extension Educator Claire Coombs. Sjoerd Duiker.
The second Northeast Cover Crop Council Conference was held in State College on November 15th, 2018. The Northeast Cover Crop Council aims to support successful implementation of cover crops to maximize economic, environmental and social benefits. It does that by facilitating collaboration between farmers, researchers, and the public to foster the exchange of information, inspiration, and outcome-based research.
One of the highlights of the Council is an annual conference that will rotate throughout the states of the Northeast (the first one was in Ithaca, New York). This year’s conference featured keynote speakers Blake Vince, who farms corn, soybeans, and wheat on 1,200 acres in Ontario, Canada and Ray Weil, University of Maryland soils professor and father of the tillage radish. Mr. Vince explained how he uses roots, not iron, to build soil and protect water quality with multi-species cover crops in a continuous no-till grain rotation. Dr. Weil spoke about nutrient recycling with cover crops and emphasized the need to plant early.
Farmers, researchers, and graduate students shared practices, ideas and research about cover crop adoption and education, cover crops and livestock production, cover crops in vegetable and row crops, nutrient management benefits of cover crops, and cover crop mixtures research in 23 breakout presentations. Participants also had the opportunity to talk to about 20 poster presenters in the morning and discussed a variety of cover crop themes in ‘World Café’ roundtables in the afternoon. The conference finished with a social evening with refreshments.
The field day that would have featured a planting green demonstration, cover crop mixtures and interseeding research, and cover crops for weed management had to be cancelled due to the first snow storm of the season. Participants learned a lot about cover crop work in the northeastern United States and strengthened connections with others using and researching cover crops in the region.
More information can be found at the Northeast Cover Crops Council website. Summaries of breakout sessions are also available. Keep an eye out for more information on the 2019 conference, which will likely be held in Maryland.