Midwest Cover Crops Council to Discuss Making Cover Crops Work

ISU professors Andrew Lenssen and Ajay Nair to take part in conference

January 5, 2017, 12:45 pm | Andrew Lenssen, Ajay Nair

AMES, Iowa – A pair of Iowa State University professors will represent the state at the 2017 Midwest Cover Crops Council Conference. The conference will be held in Grand Rapids, Mich. on March 15.

MCCC Cover CropsThis year’s conference is titled "Making Cover Crops Work – Experiences from the Field" and will feature concurrent sessions on cover crop use in field crops, vegetable crops and grazing.

Andrew Lenssen, professor of agronomy at Iowa State, will represent Iowa during the conference’s business meetings. Ajay Nair, assistant professor of horticulture and extension vegetable production specialist, will present during the conference on cover crops and conservation tillage systems in organic broccoli, peppers and squash.

Iowa State is a founding member of the Midwest Cover Crops Council.

“Cover crops can improve and protect soil health,” Lenssen said. “They also recycle nutrients, which can help improve water quality. Cover crops alone won’t eliminate nitrate in water supplies, but they can decrease nitrate losses in tile drainage by 30-50 percent in Iowa.”

A goal of the council is to increase the amount of cover crops used by farmers.

“Last year Iowa had less than 2 percent of its 24 million acres of row crops planted to cover crops after harvest,” Lenssen said. “Cover crops can also tremendously decrease erosion, which is a long-term threat to the productivity of our soils.”

Registration is available online for the conference. Registration is $85 until Jan. 31, when it jumps to $100. Graduate student registration is $50 until Jan. 31 and $60 after that date. Registration will remain open until March 1.

Visitors to the MCCC website will find it has been newly updated. The new website design allows for users to find resources and access the site on mobile technology more easily.

The website also includes the MCCC Cover Crop Calculator, which allows users to determine the best cover crop to be used in their farm operation. The calculator provides information on species adaptation down to the county level for each state within the MCCC.

Photo by Ajay Nair

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