USDA holds Mid MO Soil Health and Cover Crop Seminar

The Isle of Capri's Flamingo Bay Ballroom was packed with folks Thursday to hear the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) talk about current happenings in the agriculture world. The  Mid-Missouri Soil Health and Cover Crop Seminar lasted for most of the day, and hosted an array of guest speakers who were well versed in agriculture from around the country.
The speakers featured throughout the day included Gabe Brown, David Brandt and Bill Lehmkuhl.
According to a flyer released for the event, Gabe Brown is a nationally known no-tiller from North Dakota who uses cover crops, zero tillage and the grazing of livestock to increase crop yields, lower input costs and improve the overall health of his farm’s soil. David Brandt, a no-tiller since 1971, uses a variety of cover crops to improve soil structure, add nutrients, and increase yield for the next crop in the rotation. The final speaker was Bill Lehmkuhl who is a crop consultant who speaks nationally on planter setup and adjustment for optimum performance as well as a “systems approach” to soil.
Lehmkuhl spoke in the afternoon explaining the importance of planting. He said many farmers spend more time getting their harvesting equipment, but do not spend the time preparing their planting equipment, which to him is much more important. He explained the correct and wrong ways of doing things when setting up a planter.  
The speakers also dove into the importance of cover crops. According the USDA cover crops are grasses, legumes and other forbs that are planted for erosion control, improving soil structure, moisture, and nutrient content, increasing beneficial soil biota, suppressing weeds, providing habitat for beneficial predatory insects, facilitating crop pollinators, providing wildlife habitat, and as forage for farm animals. Furthermore, the USDA believes cover crops can provide energy savings both by adding nitrogen to the soil and making more soil nutrients available, thereby reducing the need to apply fertilizer.
Pat Oswald of Pilot Grove Co-op was very pleased with the speakers at the event.
"We heard some of the best speakers on Cover Crops there are in the industry. They expressed themselves very well and were great at explaining in terms we all could understand," Oswald said.
He said cover crops are becoming a trend that is growing in agriculture and Cooper County has the necessary resources to plant cover crops, which requires an airplane to do it.
"Cover crops usually are planted before harvest and when harvest is happening, cover crops are usually germinating at that time," Oswald said.
Oswald said Pilot Grove Co-op has been offering advice on cover crops for a couple years now.
Oswald said John Spenaugle and everyone did a wonderful job in making the event a good one.
The event was sponsored by Pilot Grove Coop, Alliant Bank, MFA, UMB Bank, Lacrosse Forage & Turf, MO Southern Seed, Ward Labs, Miller Seed Co., Rite Way Mfg., Solvita, Hoegemeyer Hybrids, Citizens Community Bank, Pioneer Seeds, Farm Service Agency, Cooper County SWCD and Missouri Adult Ag Educators.