Midwest Cover Crops Council conference Feb. 20-21
The Midwest Cover Crops Council, in collaboration with University of Illinois Extension, will be holding its annual meeting and conference in Springfield, Ill., Feb. 20-21. This is the first time Illinois is hosting the MCCC event, which will be held at the Northfield Inn Suites and Conference Center at 3280 Northfield Drive, Springfield.
The conference theme this year is “Cover Crops and Soil Health: The Practical Way Forward.” Feb. 20 will consist of a working session to guide MCCC in developing meaningful outreach tools, including a listening session with certified crop advisers to gauge usefulness of currently available cover crop resources and future resources.
In addition, MCCC states, provinces and partners will provide research and Extension updates related to cover crops. Feb. 21 will be the Grower Conference portion and will feature speakers on topics such as:
• Practical Implementation of Cover Crops by Lee Briese, 2017 International Crop Adviser (CCA) of the Year
• Building Your Soil Health System on Sound Principles by Barry Fisher, Natural Resources Conservation Service soil health specialist
• Nutrient Reduction Regulations in Ohio by Sarah Noggle, Ohio State University Extension agriculture and natural resources educator
• The Effect of N Management and Cover Crops on Tile Nitrate Loads in Central Illinois by Lowell Gentry, U of I principal research specialist in agriculture
• Soil Health: What’s Old, What’s New, and How does It Relate to Cover Cropping? by Andrew Margenot, U of I assistant professor of soil science
• Effects of Cover Crops on Weed Control in Soybeans by Brent Sunderlage, Southern Illinois University weed science researcher
• Farmer and CCA Panel Discussion moderated by Joel Gruver, Western Illinois University associate professor of soil science and sustainable ag
Registration fees are $60 for the Grower Conference on Feb. 21 only, or $110 for both days. Fees are discounted for CCAs; they may register for the Grower Conference at a rate of $30 and attend the working session and updates on Feb. 20 for free. Continuing education units will be available both days of the conference for CCAs. Register online.
Monsanto Fund unveils nutrition program for healthy pregnancies
To address issues associated with food insecurity during pregnancy for low-income women and their families, the Monsanto Fund, a philanthropic arm of Bayer, and St. Louis-based Operation Food Search are partnering to launch the Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts program.
The program is funded by an $850,000 four-year grant from the Monsanto Fund. Operation Food Search (OFS), a hunger relief organization, developed the initiative that will initially serve at least 500 women. Fresh Rx is considered the only food-as-medicine program in existence that addresses food insecurity in low-income women with the goal of ensuring better birth outcomes for moms and their babies.
“Limited access to nutritional food and holistic support during pregnancy can cause a myriad of issues and stress,” says Al Mitchell, Bayer’s vice president of corporate engagement. “The Fresh Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts program aligns with the Monsanto Fund’s commitment of supporting comprehensive approaches that result in long-term behavior change toward healthy eating and nutrition.”
During prenatal appointment discussions, health-care providers will connect potential program participants to Fresh Rx resources. Once accepted into the program, expectant mothers will have access to:
• a weekly share of local protein, dairy, grain and produce for their entire household provided by Fair Shares Combined Community Supported Agriculture and its network of 80 local farmers
• one-on-one nutrition consultations with OFS’ Fresh Rx dietitian
• in-home and online nutrition and cooking tutorials from OFS’ Fresh Rx community chef
• culinary skills, nutrition education classes and the Cooking Matters at the Store interactive grocery store computer program, where participants learn how to be savvy shoppers
• access to supportive and community resources that will include financial counseling, workforce development and diaper assistance
USDA measures nutrient management practices of Illinois farmers
Farmers should expect a survey in the mail soon, as USDA works to measure nutrient management practices.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service is conducting a survey of Illinois farmers for the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council to measure a number of management practices, including use of cover crops, timing of fertilizer applications and methods of determining nitrogen application rates.
In addition, the survey will measure edge-of-field practices including wood-chip bioreactors, constructed wetlands and saturated buffers.
“We mailed more than 1,000 questionnaires to producers, and I encourage everyone to respond using the postage-paid envelope that we provided. That is the best way to save taxpayer dollars and still gather information from the best source possible, the farmers themselves,” says Mark Schleusener, the Illinois state statistician for NASS.
“Every individual report is confidential by law and is also exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. NASS will only publish and share state totals and averages, never individual farm data,” Schleusener says.
NASS staff intended to mail the surveys in early January, but the federal government shutdown caused a delay. One month after the first mailing, NASS will mail another correspondence to producers who have not yet responded. Finally, NASS will use its St. Louis calling center to call those who do not respond to either mailing.
“Our goal is to get the highest response we can and still stay under budget,” Schleusener says.
Results from the survey will be published in August. For more information, call the NASS Heartland Regional Field Office at 800-551-1014.
Conference offers forage, grazing management topics
Producers wanting to make the most of their forage production and pastures may want to attend the combined 2019 Illinois Forage Institute and Northwest Illinois Grazing Conference on March 8 in Stockton, Ill.
Presenters will include Wisconsin Extension ag agent Gene Schriefer, Illinois Extension commercial ag educator Philip Alberti, Illinois Extension educator Travis Meteer and University of Wisconsin forage professor emeritus Dan Undersander.
“As pasture management techniques have improved, livestock managers have become more aware of the poisonous plants which can be harmful to their animals: poison hemlock, white snakeroot and wild parsnip, just to name a few,” Alberti says. “However, there are many harmless plant species which look awfully similar to their toxic counterpart. Misidentification of these harmless species can lead to unnecessary, and costly, remediation techniques.”
For this reason, Alberti will be presenting Aggressive and Dangerous Weeds and Lookalikes to help producers properly scout and distinguish these plant species to help ensure pasture and animal health.
The Illinois Forage and Grassland Council and University of Illinois Extension collaborated on the conference. It will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on March 8 at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 223 E. Front Ave., Stockton.
The registration fee is $20 before Feb. 27 and $25 after. A reduced registration rate is available for members of IFGC and students. To register, call U of I Extension at 815-858-2273, or register online.