The Indiana-based Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative was awarded $750,000 (Conservation Innovation Grant) to further quantify the value of cover crops – including annual ryegrass – in the Midwest over the next 3 years. The money has already been used to hire a project director (Lisa Holscher) and line out highly-visible projects to help explain and educate regional farmers.
The project will include 12 farms in Indiana, each of whom is contributing to the project’s budget. Each farmer chosen already has shown experience with on-farm re search, conservation measures, hosting field days and making public presentations. Each will receive mentoring and technical advice as part of their investment. Several those chosen are long-term cover crop innovators (Dan DeSutter, Jamie Scott, Cameron Mills) and they’ll become part of the advisory team for teaching.
According to a news release on the project: The majority of the sites compare no-till/strip-till only to no-till/strip-till with cover crops. Other comparisons include: strip-till with cover crops vs. no-till with cover crops; reduced tillage with cover crops vs strip-till with cover crops; and no-till with single-species cover crop vs. no-till with a cover crop mix. More specifically, soil fertility, soil moisture, soil nitrate, soil temperature, cover crop biomass, and some of the new soil health tests will be done. Test results will be compiled and analyzed by Purdue University.
Partnering with CCIS in the project: Indiana Corn Growers Association, Indiana Soybean Alliance, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and the Purdue Cooperative Extension.