Touring Cover Crops and the World Beneath

Thirty-eight participants visited three local farms to observe the top growth of cover crops and to view the soil world beneath their feet.  On October 18th the Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil-Healthy Water held their first morning field tour.  These farmers have a mission of improving our community’s soil & water through conservation practices and education for the Upper Rock River Watershed, which includes portions of Fond du Lac County.

Tour attendees visited three local farms using cover crops. The farmers at each site shared information and tips about their on-farm research trials which highlighted either frost-seeded red clover into winter wheat, inter-seeding a cover crop mix into corn, or cover crop mixtures. Two tour stops had soil pits, where Dr. Jamie Patton, UW-Extension Ag Agent, from Shawano County illustrated the story of soil health as told through the soil beneath our feet (Photo 1).  Dr. Loretta Ortiz-Ribbing, UW-Extension Area Agent for Dodge and Fond du Lac Counties, shared some preliminary results of on-farm cover crop trials started by the three featured farmers to answer local production challenges.

In addition to the field tour, five members of the Beaver Dam High School FFA club viewed the cover crop mixtures and soil pit site and learned about new plant names and soil health principles.  Furthermore, these same cover crop plots and soil pit were toured by eight members of local lakes associations where cover crop, soil health, and conservation production practices were shared between producers and lake owners (Photo 2).

Photo 1: Courtesy of L. Ortiz-Ribbing – Field Tour participants examine the soil beneath their feet.

Photo 2:  Courtesy of B. Boettge—Lake association members view cover crop mix options and learn about conservation practices.

Article By: Loretta Ortiz-Ribbing

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