By Molly Hamilton, NC Cooperative Extension Assistant and NC SARE Program Assistant
Over two days in July 2016, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and Southern SARE hosted the first-ever Southern Cover Crop Conference. Researchers, farmers, extension agents, and natural resource personnel from across the Southern region gathered to learn about and discuss cover crops at CEFS’ Field Research and Outreach Facility at Cherry Farm in Goldsboro and the University of Mount Olive (UMO). On the first day of the conference at UMO, over 45 speakers covered topics ranging from economics to nutrient management to equipment. New research, challenges for implementing cover crops, and solutions to those challenges were discussed.
Day two of the conference took place at CEFS’ Field Research and Outreach Facility, with 13 field demonstrations that attendees could tour and learn from. Demonstrations included cover crop use in cotton, corn, soybeans, and in hoop houses. Attendees could see warm-season and unusual cover crops in the field, as well as equipment for termination, residue management, and planting. Four demonstrations had set times for presentations, while the rest of the demonstrations were set up like a county fair – anyone could go by the demonstration to tour and learn at any time. Attendees also got a chance to tour the rest of the field research sites in the afternoon. It was a great day, with over 350 people in attendance!
After the field demonstrations, the initial meeting of the Southern Cover Crop Council (SCCC) gathered in order to start planning for the Council’s future. The SCCC will consist of representatives from states and territories of the Southern SARE region who will collaborate on cover crop research, extension outreach, and information dissemination.
In the next few weeks, fact sheets from the conference’s workshops and field demonstrations will be available on the CEFS website and in hard copy from Southern SARE. Videos from the field demonstrations can be seen here.
This conference fueled excitement for cover crops in the Southern region, and will serve as a launch for new cover crop projects and an increase in cover crop use in our region. We look forward to seeing what comes next!
This Conference was funded, in large part, thanks to grant from the Southern SARE program. The conference was organized by leaders in extension and research throughout the Southeastern U.S.
Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Georgia,Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America’s Southern region.
This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, under sub-award number: SC14-001. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.