Building a Business Case for Cover Crops

By Elizabeth Ripley, Iowa Learning Farms

Iowa Learning Farms (ILF), a conservation-focused education and outreach program for Iowa farmers and landowners based at Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach, is collaborating with Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) to provide an online Cover Crop Boot Camp in July. Billed as an event where ag retailers can learn to build a business case for cover crops, the program consists of three online sessions taking place July 8, 15, and 22, all at noon CDT.

The series is designed to efficiently provide actionable agronomic information which can help independent and retail agronomists and crop consultants build their business through recommending and implementing cover crops.

“The needs of agronomists and advisers for information, practices, and business tactics related to cover crops has not been diminished by pandemic-related restrictions,” said Sarah Carlson, strategic initiatives director for PFI. “These webinars will provide ag professionals, who are working with farmers every day, with an opportunity to tune up muscle-memory about cover crops, learn from industry experts, and examine new ways to build their business. And they can join these lunchtime webinars from the convenience of their truck, office or living room.”

The series incorporates speakers from manufacturing, research, services, production and consulting, offering a broad spectrum of perspectives and information.

“In planning the agenda, our core team was focused on providing participants with a well-rounded picture of the economics and mechanics of cover crop implementation,” said Elizabeth Ripley, conservation and cover crop outreach specialist for ILF. “Research has clearly shown multiple production, conservation and environmental benefits from cover crops. However, it is equally important to prove the business case for both agronomists and farmers. Participants in these webinars should plan to come away with information and tactics that will help them grow or build their conservation-focused line of business.”

Session Details:

July 8 – The Business of Cover Crops

With: Matt Carstens (chief executive officer, Landus Cooperative) and Dr. Lee Briese, (independent crop consultant with Centrol of Twin Valley)

Topics include: Cover crop benefits to consulting businesses; working with Co-Ops; client interactions and planning; business case for conservation agriculture.

July 15 – Setup and Logistics for Cover Crop Success

With: Bert Strayer (cover crop lead, La Crosse Seed), James Holz (Greene County farmer and co-owner, Iowa Cover Crop), Dean Sponheim (co-owner, Sponheim Seeds and Services), and Nate LeVan (field agronomist, Pioneer)

Topics include: Fall and spring logistics; seeding preparation and process; coordination of services – termination, nutrient management, strip-tillage, crop scouting.

July 22 – Conservation Agronomy of Cover Crops: Start to Finish

With: Dave Schwartz (executive vice president of sales in plant nutrition for Verdesian Life Sciences), Meaghan Anderson (ISU Extension field agronomist), and Dr. Eileen Kladivko (professor of agronomy at Purdue University)

Topics include: Managing pests, residuals and herbicides; nitrogen management; agronomics of cover crop advising.

To register for the webinars, please visit . Please select the date(s) you wish to attend.

All sessions will be recorded and archived for later viewing. Only attendees of the live events will qualify to receive CCA continuing education credits (CEU) for participating.

This Cover Crop Boot Camp is based on work supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number 6000004181. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender. Additional partners include the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance and the Iowa Soybean Association.