The Sussex Conservation District and the Delaware Soil Health Partnership held a free cover crop workshop Dec. 11 at the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Company.
Nearly 75 agriculturists learned the framework necessary to start thinking about farm management in a holistic way from Steve Groff, owner of Cover Crop Coaching. Panelists were Nathan Hudson, owner of N.R. Hudson Consulting Inc.; James “Jim” Palermo, president of Trap Woods Inc.; and Michael Twining, vice president of sales and marketing at Willard Agri-Service. They answered questions on how to connect soil health and crop management to achieve production goals.
Groff, an active farmer and cover crop expert, shared his process for implementing cover crops while avoiding costly mistakes. His 10 percent cover crop challenge urged attendees to change their mind-set about cover crops and how to adjust if cover crops do not perform on par with expectations.
Groff said, “Cover crop management needs to be thought of in the context of a 10-year plan. They are an investment; you are building long-term value into your soil.”
The market is shifting toward more sustainable agricultural practices. Buyers and consumers want to purchase from sustainable farms that participate in soil health initiatives. “If you don’t get on the bandwagon, your farm will be left behind,” Groff said.
Panelists Hudson, Palermo and Twining discussed cover crop selection, establishment, termination, timing, nutrient management, soil health evaluation and how to measure change over time. The panelists mutually agreed that soil health practices can impact nutrient management recommendations, noting that they're spending more time in their customers' fields throughout the season to closely monitor the ever-changing nutrient needs of crops.
For more information including presentation materials, go to www.sussexconservation.org/resources/news or call 302-856-3990, Ext. 3.