Location: Dairy Forage Research
Project Number: 5090-21500-002-026-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Aug 1, 2023
End Date: Jul 31, 2024
The ARS PI and the Cooperator will work collaboratively to: Objective 1: Assess grower use of cover crops and evaluate productivity across the diverse growing regions and soils of Wisconsin. Objective 2: Conduct outreach efforts, including revisions and development of publications, videos, and other outreach material, for Wisconsin farmers, agronomists, and conservation professionals on implementing soil health practices. Objective 3: Host an annual conference for Wisconsin farmers, agronomists, conservation professionals, and agency staff to learn about using soil health practices and agriculture's impact on water quality. Objective 4: Co-host with the ARS in Madison, Wisconsin, two field days to showcase soil health practices in the context of dairy forage production systems. Objective 5: Conduct demonstrations and advance research on soil health supporting practices.
The Cooperator will undertake five complementary activities to address the objectives outlined above. Objective 1: The Cooperator will work in collaboration with the Wisconsin Cover Crop Citizen Science Survey group to conduct an annual survey of Wisconsin cover cropping practices being implemented by farmers. This survey will use citizen science to allow farmers to collect cover crop biomass data and share agronomic management practice data. As more data is collected and analyzed the project will evolve to capture the appropriate data to fill key missing metrics from Cooperator extension cover crop recommendations. This data is specific to Wisconsin crop rotations and geography and includes species selection, seeding rate, manure management, and biomass accumulation rate. Objective 2: The Cooperator will develop and revise key publications, videos, and presentations for Wisconsin farmers, agronomists, and conservation professionals on implanting soil health practice such as managing cover crops, no-till, soil testing, and nutrient management. The resources will be delivered via print, electronic, and in-person. The need for these resources will be continuously evaluated by the cooperator's entire Nutrient and Pest Management team. Objective 3: The Cooperator will work in collaboration with the Wisconsin Soil Health and Water Quality Conference planning team to host an annual conference for Wisconsin farmers, agronomists, conservation professionals, and agency staff to learn more about using soil health practices and agriculture’s impact on water quality. The conference will continuously be searching for the best topics and speakers to feature and will strive for a mix of researcher and farmer presentations. Registration revenue and sponsorships will cover the variable costs for the actual event. Since 2014, the conference has drawn nearly 400 annual attendees and numerous collaborating partners. Objective 4: The Cooperator will co-host with ARS personnel a spring and fall field day showcasing soil health practice research at the ARS farm. This field day will help connect Wisconsin farmers, agronomist, and conservation professionals to research done on the station. A spring and fall field day will be annually hosted to capture the appropriate time to feature research projects and to discuss implementation on the landscape. These half day field days will provide participants and hosts an opportunity to connect and network to further existing connections. The field days will be promoted using the Nutrient and Pest management's online resources. Objective 5: The Cooperator will continue demonstration and research efforts on the topic of soil health practice implantation. The projects may take place on Wisconsin farms and agricultural research farms and will be in collaboration with Cooperator faculty researchers. Topics may include interseeding cover crops, evaluating nitrogen management when planting corn ‘green’ into winter rye, and the benefits of using cover crops and no-till in crop rotations.