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U of I Extension Office to host On-Farm Spring Cover Crop Field Day

Lifelong row crop farmer and Hamilton County, Illinois resident, Jr. Upton, will be hosting a cover crop field day at his farm near Springerton, IL on Friday, April 1, 2016. Jr. has been using cover crops on his farm for over 50 years, annually planting nearly 800 acres in cover crops as part of his no-till production system. Over the past 20 years, Jr. has seen major benefits from his use of cover crops including increased organic matter; elimination of the hard pan in fields with continuous covers crops; improved yields during dry years; using less fertilizer than university recommendations; improved moisture management; improved erosion control in no-till fields; and ability to plant higher populations of corn, leading to an increase in yield.

In 2015, Mr. Upton received a SARE Farmer/Rancher grant to look at utilizing precision application of cover crops to minimize planting challenges while maximizing benefits to corn. After fabricating a precision seeder that plants multiple cover crop species in a single pass, he hopes to find a combination of cover crop species that are most beneficial to corn while continuing to provide soil health benefits. Research plots for this project were established in September 2015 with the help of University of Illinois Extension Educators, Bronwyn Aly and Nathan Johanning, and University of Illinois Agronomist, John Pike. These plots will be one of the featured topics during the field day with John Pike leading the discussion. Barry Fisher, NRCS, will be using soil pits at different locations on the farm to demonstrate the effects of cover crops on soil structure. Mike Plumer, Conservation Agriculture, will be on-hand to discuss the benefits of cover crops on soil health and Nathan Johanning will be providing information on weed control options in cover crops.

North Central SARE, University of Illinois Extension, UDSA NRCS, IDOA, CBMP, and the Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District are all sponsoring this event to promote, demonstrate, and educate the public as to the need, uses, and benefits of utilizing cover crops as an integral part of a rotational cropping system.

This on-farm spring cover crop field day is free and open to anyone interested in learning about the use and benefits of cover crops. Pre-registration is greatly appreciated; please call the Hamilton Co Extension Office at 618-643-3416 by March 30th. Sign-in will begin at 8:30 am, welcome at 9:00 am, tour stops during the morning, BBQ lunch around noon, and final tour stops in the afternoon.

The farm is located at 16130 County Rd 1800 N Springerton, IL 62887; about 3 miles west of Illinois State Highway 45 at Springerton. For more information, contact Bronwyn Aly at [email protected] or 618-382-2662. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact the Extension office.