Local farmers invite you out to their farms for a Drive-It-Yourself tour of fields with growing cover crops. These three farms are located in Northern Champaign and Logan Counties and are planted to different species of cover crops after wheat. The farmers will be on hand to answer questions and discuss how they adopted cover crops and make it work for their operations.
Cover crops provide many benefits to improving soil health and productivity. These include water infiltration and water holding capacity, which helps filter water through the soil during heavy rains and retain moisture during dry periods. Reducing erosion keeps valuable topsoil in place and available for crops.
Farmers using cover crops in this area have also seen reduced weed pressure where cover crops are planted. This leads to cost savings by reducing the number of herbicide applications needed. Cover crops can also improve fertility by keep nutrients in the field.
When nutrients are applied in the fall or winter, weather conditions can move nutrients out of the root zone. Cover crops reduce nutrient movement by taking up those nutrients or slowing down water movement that carries those nutrients off the field. Adding legumes into the mix provides additional nitrogen for the following crop.
Getting started with cover crops can be daunting, especially with limited time and resources in the fall. Through the Cover Crop Champions program in Champaign and Logan Counties, these farmers are committed to helping others become successful. They are here to answer you questions and help you make it work on your individual farms. For additional resources, videos and podcasts about using cover crops, please visit the link at the end of this article.
The tour is slated for September 17, from 5 to 8 p.m. Guests are invited to attend in any order at any time within the 3 hours. Food and drinks will be available at each location. There is no cost to attend and we appreciate an RSVP to plan for food. You can view details, the map and RSVP at http://go.osu.edu/CCChampions.
Amanda Douridas is the Champaign Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator for The Ohio State University Extension.