Research and Technology Briefs Dec 2008 II


Research & Technology Briefs

By Rachel Doctor


Midwest Cover Crops Council Web Site Introduced
Midwestern farmers wanting to learn more about cover crops now have a central information source where they can easily find practical ways to use them.

The Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) recently introduced a Web site as an educational tool to help expand the knowledge compiled since the group's formation two years ago to farmers and others in agricultural-related fields.

The MCCC is comprised of a diverse group of academia, production agriculture, non-governmental organizations, commodity interests, private sector and representatives from federal and state agencies collaborating to address soil, water, air and agricultural quality concerns in the Great Lakes and Mississippi river basins (including Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Manitoba, Ontario, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota).

The group's belief is cover crops are a practical way to decrease soil erosion, increase nutrient recycling by crops and decrease soil and nutrient waste entering waterways.

Dr. Eileen J. Kladivko, professor of agronomy at Purdue University and MCCC Executive Committee member, says this Web site will not only help farmers to find useful information on cover crops and how to use them, but also raise awareness of the potential importance of cover crops for anybody tied to agriculture.

“We hope others will realize cover crops are important to the overall system of farming and to water quality,” she says.

Kladivko is one of the six executive committee members who envisioned the idea of coming together to pool resources and connect with others interested in cover crops and then share that with the public through a Web site.

“There is a lot of knowledge in the Midwest, but it was never well-linked,” she says.

Now farmers and others interested in cover crops can browse the organized MCCC Web site by individual state or by crop. Kladivko hopes the public finds the information available and easily accessible.

The Web site available today is just the beginning, Kladivko says. MCCC plans to add a cover crop selection tool — a hands-on learning module to help farmers select the cover crop that would benefit them the most.

CTIC is assisting MCCC in the development of the cover crop selection tool. That tool is part of a three-year, two-state project, called Using Cover Crops to Facilitate the Transition to Continuous No-Till, funded by a 2008 Conservation Innovation Grant awarded to CTIC by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. CTIC and MCCC, along with The Ohio State University, Ohio No-Till Council, Purdue University, Michigan State University, Ag Conservation Solutions and the Owen County Soil and Water Conservation District will work with four farmers in Indiana and four farmers in Ohio to assist them in using cover crops to transition to continuous no-till. The experiences of the transitioning farmers, plus the data collected on their demonstration plots, will be included in educational workshops held in Indiana in spring 2009 and Ohio in spring 2011.

The new MCCC Web site can be accessed at www.mccc.msu.edu/. For more information about the MCCC or the web site, contact Eileen Kladivko at kladivko@purdue.edu or 765-494-6372. For more information about CTIC's work with cover crops, contact Angie Williams at williams@conservationinformation.org or 765-494-1814.
 

About the Writer: Rachel Doctor is the Communications Director of CTIC and Editor of Partners