The completion of harvest and cooler temperatures make the fall months a good time for farmers to examine their soils and consider planting cover crops to prevent winter erosion and build biomass.
The Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service are teaming up to present a conference on those topics at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark., Oct. 28-29. Farmers from across the country are invited to attend.
The event is designed to assist farmers in learning how to successfully adopt a cover crop management system, improve soil health and water management on their operations in these difficult economic times.
“The conference provides a forum for farmers to exchange information, discuss opportunities for collaboration, and learn about new and successful practices related to cover crops, soil and water management,” says Debbie Moreland, program administrator of the AACD. “Case study presentations will identify and discuss strengths and pitfalls of real applications.”
Specific conference sessions will include: soil management; water management; pest management; growing cover crops to graze cattle on cropland; cover crop management and noâtill.
Guest speakers will include NRCS and USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists, farmers, crop consultants, and university researchers who have extensive experience with various focal points of the conference. One of the featured speakers for this year’s conference will be Gabe Brown who will make a presentation on soil health.
Cover crops enhance soil health, increase soil water retention and keep nutrients in the fields. Although cover crops can be effective under conventional tillage, they also improve soil quality and ease the transition to continuous noâtill.
“Southern farmers cannot simply rely on the tried and proven management techniques that the Midwest employs to manage cover crops and improve soil health,” said John Lee, USDA-NRCS state agronomist in Arkansas. “Conditions in the South are different, and we need to plan to improve soil health according to southern agricultural farming practices and conditions farmers are facing here in the South.”
The second day of the conference will focus on methods to improve water management. Irrigation water management saves money while reducing water use, improving water and air quality, and saving energy.
“Irrigation water management just makes good dollars and sense,” said Walt Delp, USDA-NRCS state conservation engineer. “Every drop of water that does not runoff is water that is available for crop use and does not have to be pumped.”
One emerging field for conservation is selling carbon credits on the environmental market. Several speakers will talk about how to use less water for rice production which, in turn, will produce fewer greenhouse gases.
Certified crop advisors can earn continuing education units for attending training at the conference.
For more information or to register for the Southern Agricultural Cover Crops, Soil Health and Water Management Conference, contact Moreland at (501) 682-2915. Registration packages are also available at www.aracd.org.