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Announcing the University of Minnesota Extension Cover Crop Academy

By Liz Stahl, Extension Educator - Crops, Phyllis Bongard, Educational Content Development & Communications Specialist, and Anna Cates, Extension Specialist in Soil Health

Do you work with farmers who want to use cover crops but are struggling to incorporate them into Minnesota’s short growing season? Are you striving to help producers build soil health systems that are agronomically and economically successful? If you want to learn more about using cover crops to help address crop production challenges, join us for the University of Minnesota Extension Cover Crop Academy.

The UMN Extension Cover Crop Academy is a hybrid, year-long, statewide course for crop advisors, consultants, educators, agency personnel, and ag advisors who work with cover crops in coops, ag retailers, lending institutions, non-profits, soil and water conservation districts (SWCD) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices. This unique opportunity will take a deep dive into cover crops and will be tailored to Minnesota cropping systems and conditions.

Cover Crop Academy overview   

The academy will kick off with in-person meetings at the Research and Outreach Centers (ROC) in Lamberton, Waseca and Crookston in June 2024 (select the nearest site to you). You will visit cover crop research plots and learn about what is and is not working in your region. 

Bi-monthly webinar meetings that dive deep into cover crop topics will follow. The Academy will wrap up in May 2025 with a final in-person session where you will be able to see results from trials you helped develop as an attendee.

UMN Cover Crop Academy Schedule     

Note: Online sessions will run from 10 a.m. to noon.
  • June 2024: In-person meetings at the ROC nearest you in (attend only one)
    • June 18, Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca (in conjunction with the SROC Agronomy Field Tour)
    • June 20, Northwest Research and Outreach Center, Crookston
    • June 27, Southwest Research and Outreach Center, Lamberton (in conjunction with the SWROC Cover Crop Field Day)
  • July 9, 2024: ONLINE-Developing a cover crop plan. Discuss cover crop species selection, seeding methods, and seeding rates. Determine regional cover crop research treatments.
  • September 10, 2024: ONLINE-Managing weeds and cover crops. Learn about herbicide residuals and carryover concerns with cover crops and best management practices for cover crop termination.
  • November 19, 2024: ONLINE-Managing soil fertility in cover crop systems. Learn about nitrogen management, manure applications and reduced tillage in cover crop systems.
  • January 14, 2025: ONLINE-Avoiding cash crop issues after cover crops. Discuss planter specifications and modifications and insect pest issues. Learn from a famer panel about what to expect in the spring.
  • March 11, 2025: ONLINE-Where’s the easy button to get started? Discuss easy entry points in the crop rotation, and special topics based on participant interest.
  • May 2025: In-person meetings at the ROC nearest you. Course wrap-up, including a visit to your small plot trials to assess results.
All Academy attendees should leave with an expanded knowledge base and toolkit to help in cover crop implementation and a peer network of cover crop advisors. Certified Crop Advisor CEUs will be applied for, primarily in the soil and water, nutrient management, and pest management categories.

Register for the Cover Crop Academy   

The cost to participate in the UMN Extension Cover Crop Academy is only $75, thanks to our program sponsors. For more details and to register, go to Cover Crop Academy

Register by June 10, 2024 to reserve your spot for one of three locations: Waseca, Crookston, or Lamberton. Registration will be limited and filled on a first come, first served basis. Note, all attendees are expected to attend all events and complete short assignments to earn a certificate of completion at the final session.

This program is brought to you by University of Minnesota Extension, with support from the Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service, General Mills, and the Minnesota Office of Soil Health.

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