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Cover Crops, On-Farm Network Testing Draw Interest at Farm Show

Cover Crops, On-Farm Network Testing Draw Interest at Farm Show
Talk about cover crops, and they will come!

The most crowded rooms at free seminars last week at the Ft. Wayne Farm Show, which ran for three days during the center of the week, were about grain marketing There's no disputing that, notes Greg Lake, a farmer, soil conservation technician with the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District, and someone who helped man booths at the show. Lake, in fact, was one of the people who helped dream up the idea of the show some 20 years ago. It started out as a conservation tillage conference with big-equipment exhibits, and mushroomed from that point.

But grain marketing wasn't the only thing people were interested in. That's what Lake found striking. "We as the district offered a session on cover crops and On-Farm Network testing," he relates. "If we had offered the same session and said we were going to talk about cover crops even five years ago, we would have been lucky to have 20 people in the room. As it was, we had a good crowd. There were at least a hundred guys there to listen to the discussion."

Cover crops are a hot topic, and this is just another example that proves the point. Twenty years ago it was no-till field days. Now it's cover crop fields says that seem to draw the attention. The interest seems to be growing from top-flight, large-scale farmers. The mission is not only to cover the soil in the winter, but to capture nitrogen for the next crop, and provide deep rooting that helps loosen the soil.

Chief Dave White of the Natural Resources Conservation Service told a crowd of 500 soil and water conservation district supervisors at the Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Indianapolis earlier this month that Indiana has more interest in cover crops right now than in all the other states combined. It was a strong statement, which draw hearty applause from the crowd.

White believes Indiana's concentration on soil health, not just no-till or cover crops or any other single practice, is helping build interest in what can be done to improve soils if people change farming methods. According to the NRCS Chief, Indiana is the model as to how to provide education about the need to be concerned about soil health to grow better crops.  
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