Nebraska Cover Crop Conference Feb. 14

Figure 1. Cover crops planted into corn residue (left) and aerial seeded into soybean residue. (Photos by Gary Lesoing)

Nebraska Cover Crop Conference Feb. 14 January 25, 2017

Interested in adding cover crops to your corn-soybean rotation, but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’re already using cover crops and would like to talk with others about some challenges you faced.

From farmer experiences to agribusiness opportunities and research updates, speakers at the 2017 Nebraska Cover Crops Conference will be addressing a variety of topics pertinent to cover crop growers at every level. It will be Feb. 14 at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead.

While many farmers may be aware of the benefits cover crops offer for improved soil health and reduced erosion, it’s the details of how and what to do that present the challenges, said Keith Glewen, Extension educator and program coordinator.

"The conference features innovative speakers who have worked with cover crops extensively," said Glewen. "There will also be opportunities for those attending to interact and get answers to questions they may have."

"One of our conference goals," said Gary Lesoing, extension educator, "is for participants to come away with information and ideas from the various speakers on how to use cover crops successfully in their corn/soybean cropping systems.”

“Another goal is to provide participants information from cover crop business entrepreneurs about potential opportunities in the custom planting, growing, and selling  of cover crop seed," Lesoing said.

The Nebraska Extension conference will be held at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead Tuesday, Feb. 14, starting with refreshments at 8:30 a.m., followed by a program at 9 a.m., and ending at 3:15 p.m. (The ENREC is located at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1071 County Road G, Ithaca.)

Topics and Speakers

  • Termination of Cover Crops: What if the Plan Doesn’t Work? Developing a Plan for Grain Crop Herbicide Management — Rodrigo Werle, Extension cropping systems specialist
  • Planting Green Management — Dan Gillespie, no-till specialist, USDA NRCS
  • Cover Crop Influence on Corn and Soybean Nutrient Management — Ray Ward, president, Ward Lab; and Paul Jasa, Extension engineer
  • How Cover Crops are Managed on Our Farms, a farmer panel moderated by Extension Educator Keith Glewen and including:
    • Ben and Paul Sue Steffen of Humboldt
    • Tom Fick, K Double T Certified Crop Adviser, of Albion
    • Mick Minchow, farm operator, of Waverly
  • Cover Crops and Early Maturing Corn and Soybean Hybrids and Varieties — Roger Elmore, Extension Cropping systems specialist, and Nathan Mueller, extension educator
  • Cover Crop Custom Seeding Business Opportunities, an agribusiness panel moderated by Dan Gillespie and including:
    • Brian Dunlap, BD Ag Consulting of Newman Grove
    • Todd and Russell Kavan of Saunders County Seed Services in Wahoo
    • Ryan Krenk, agronomist, with Roth Aerial of Milford
    • Jody Saathoff, farm representative with CHS in Minden

The conference is sponsored by Nebraska Extension and the Nebraska Soybean Board in partnership with the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District and USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).

More Information and Registration

For more information, visit the Nebraska Cover Crops Conference website at

Pre-register by Feb. 10 so organizers can ensure enough resource materials and meals are available. To register call 402-624-8030 or email

For more information on cover crop systems, see Cover Crops in

Cover Crops Growing Businesses Too

Several Nebraska agribusinesses who have expanded their products or services to include cover crops will be speaking on the Business Opportunity panel at the Nebraska Cover Crop Conference.

Among the speakers will be Jody Saathoff, a farmer and farm representative for CHS Agri Service Center in Minden, who has been working with cover crops since 2004. The first year he started with a monoculture cover crop planted after winter wheat. After attending a No-till on the Plains tour to Gabe Brown’s North Dakota farm, he tried a multi-species mix that provided improved performance, despite water restrictions in his area. Since then he has worked with farmers to grow, tweak, and refine  cover crop plantings, often in parallel with no-till, in standard rotations.

In a four-year grower study conducted in central Nebraska, Saathoff said growers found benefits for several years when planting cover crops in just one of three years.

Ryan Krenk, a farmer and agronomist with Roth Aerial, said they have been seeding cover crops for the last five years, including aerial seeding into soybean just before the leaves start to turn yellow. The cover crop helps avoid a flush of weeds immediately post harvest that can rob the soil of valuable moisture.

Brothers Todd and Russell Kavan, owners of Saunders County Seed Services in Wahoo, initially sold cover crop seed and then found that growers didn’t have the proper equipment or the time to get cover crops seeded when they wanted to.

“First we bought drills to rent and then started doing custom drilling,” said Todd Kavan. “Then we built a seeder for our sprayer so we could plant cover crop seed into a standing crop.”

Growers are already busy at harvest and will hire someone to make sure the cover crop gets in as soon as possible to achieve as much growth as possible before winter, he said.

Learn more from these and other innovative growers and agribusiness representatives at the Nebraska Cover Crops Conference.
cover crop aerial seeded into soybean
Figure 2. Cover crop aerial seeded into soybean.