Illinois SARE Grants

North Central Region SARE Grants

Sustainable Food, Fuel and Fiber

Contact Information:

Doug Gucker
3351 N. President Howard Brown Blvd.
Decatur, IL 62521

Broadcast Recording Available from National Cover Crops Conference

Broadcast Recording Available from National Cover Crops Conference

To meet some of today's biggest challenges in agriculture, including rising food demand, a shrinking land base and climate change, farmers should be encouraged to adopt a holistic approach to enriching their most valuable resource - the soil - according to a panel of experts who helped open last week's National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health.

"Cover crops to me are just the next natural step in trying to have a broader system, and I think the single biggest issue we have as farmers in this country is we don't farm with a system in mind," said panelist Howard G. Buffett, a philanthropist and Illinois farmer.

To learn more, watch a recording of opening sessions from the National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health, held Feb. 17 - 19 in Omaha, Neb. Joining the 300 farmers, scientists, and industry and government representatives who met in Omaha, approximately 6,000 others participated by gathering at more than 200 local soil health forums nationwide, where this recording was broadcasted live.

Also available online are presentations from breakout sessions and 10 short videos of innovative farmers describing their use of cover crops.

Conference organizers are developing a formal list of recommended actions to increase cover crop adoption based on discussions at the conference and local forums. To see it when it becomes available, keep an eye on or join SARE's mailing list. 

The conference recording features a discussion of how cover crops can improve soil health and the major barriers to their increased adoption, and was led by Buffett and fellow panelists Jason Weller, chief of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Ray Gaesser, Iowa farmer and American Soybean Association president. Following them is a panel of farmers who are pioneers in the use of cover crops, no-till and other soil management practices.

Conference speakers addressed a wide range of ongoing challenges to cover crop adoption, including the need for more specialized seeding equipment, more advocacy by farmer leaders, more research on their economic benefits, and changes to insurance and conservation programs that better encourage their use. 

Practical Farmers of Iowa

Practical Farmers of Iowa provides farmers and agency personnel with information, anecdotes and research about adding cover crops to current conventional, organic or other farming systems. PFI provides farmers with opportunities to share their stories and research results with one another and with others outside the PFI membership.

Prevented Planting Fact Sheet
This sheet explains the facts and benefits of cover crops to improve soil in prevented planting fields.

Cover Crop Decision and SmartMix Calculator Tools
This handout explains the basics of working with two online cover crop planning tools: the Iowa Cover Crop Decision Tool, by the Midwest Cover Crops Council, and SmartMix Calculator™, a cover crop worksheet by Green Cover Seed.

Managing Cover Crops Profitably
For more information on how and why cover crops work, check out the book Managing Cover Crops Profitably by the Sustainable Agriculture Network, available as a free download.

Cover Crop Business Directory
To find contact information for pilots, seed houses or cooperatives that are helping get cover crops planted or terminated, see PFI’s Cover Crop Business Directory.

Adding a Cover Crop to a Corn-Soybean System
PFI field crop specialist Sarah Carlson explains how to add a cover crop to your corn and soybean rotation in this 25-minute video. View part one and part two.

Midwest Cover Crops Council
For information about cover crops throughout the Midwest, visit the Midwest Cover Crops Council Website.

Cover Crop Alternatives
Interested in adding cover crops to your farm? Joel Gruver's Cover Crop Alternatives presentation shows how you can more easily add cover crops to your farming system.

Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide
This 136-page guide will help you effectively select, grow, and use cover crops in your farming systems. You can purchase a copy for just $5.

Missouri Cover Crop Symposium

Illinois Council on Best Management Practices

An in depth variety of webinars and training sessions on Cover Crops.

Midwest Cover Crops Council

Cover Crop Resources include:

Conservation Technology Information Center

Video: Helping People, Land and Water: The Cover Crop Story
What do farms, water quality and the Great Lakes have in common? They all are helped by cover crops. Through the Great Lakes Cover Crop Initiative, CTIC and partners planted 36,970 acres of cover crops, providing many benefits to farmers in the Great Lakes region. Hear from three farmers in the Great Lakes basin, a researcher on Lake Erie and a Michigan State University Extension educator as they present "The Cover Crop Story."


Illinois Department of Agriculture Cover Crops Network

Illinois Stewardship Alliance Cover Crop Business Directory