Cover Crop,Soil Health Field Day Starts June 27

6/22/2013 7:00 AM

RONKS, Pa. — How do we measure soil health, and why is it so important? Cover crops, healthy soil, reduced tillage and environmental stewardship are the building blocks of sustainable, profitable production.

On June 27 and 28, agronomists and soil conservationists will gather at Penn-England Dairy Farm in Williamsburg, Pa., to show how this works, providing visual evidence of a cropping system on a large dairy operation. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Blair County Conservation District, The Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance and King’s AgriSeeds Inc. of Lancaster County will discuss the technical details of the long-term benefits of cover crops and no-till management.

Participants will have the opportunity to observe and compare several summer annual forage crop strips and will be introduced to no-till equipment and considerations. Participants will also learn about the specifics of manure management and formulating a nutrient management plan, as well as keeping nutrients on the farm to benefit both a operation and the entire watershed. Participants will learn how Penn-England manages its rotation to maximize cover crop benefits and avoid conflicts with herbicide residuals.

Penn England Farms LLC — located in Williamsburg, Pa., milks approximately 2,000 cows at three locations: Weeping-Hollow Farm, Clover-Ridge Farm and Penn-England, and is an excellent opportunity for small-scale producers to see the mechanics of good management and stewardship in action on a large operation.

Topics covered include cover crops, soil quality/soil health, summer annual forages, nutrient management, and no-till and no-till equipment considerations.

June 27: Twilight Field Walk

6-8 p.m.

Penn-England Farm, Williamsburg, Pa.

June 28 Cover Crops and Soil Health Presentations

9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Williamsburg Farm Show Building, Williamsburg, Pa.

Later in the afternoon: Tour Penn England Farm.

The schedule is as follows.

June 27

6-6:15 p.m. — Welcome and introduction with Jim Biddle, Penn England Farm Host member, Gordon England, David Hunsberger and Dave Wilson.

6:15-6:40 p.m. — Cover crops discussion with Dave Wilson, Kings AgriSeeds. Benefits of cover crops, considerations of fitting cover crops into rotation, cover crop mixes, multi-purpose cover/nutrient management/supplemental grown forage will be discussed.

6:40-7:10 p.m. — Soil health/soil quality discussion with Mark Goodson, NRCS. Soil pit will be used to show the soil profile and talk about soil health.

7:10-7:40 p.m. Summer annuals (sudangrass, sorghum-sudan, and forage sorghum as forages) will be discussed with Dave Wilson, David Hunsberger and other King’s AgriSeeds staff. Discussion will be about summer annual strips planted in late May/early June and planting/harvest management/use as forages. Seeds for strips will be provided.

7:40-8:00 p.m. — Nutrient management testing and considerations with Beth Futrick, Blair County Conservation District.

8-8:30 p.m. — No-till considerations, review static display of no-till equipment, finish up with question and answer session with Penn-England Farm personnel.

June 28

9-9:15 a.m. — Welcome and introduction with Jim Biddle, David Hunsberger and Dave Wilson.

9:15-10 a.m. — Benefits, Selection and Adaptation of Cover Crops with Dave Wilson, King’s AgriSeeds — Learn about fitting cover crops into rotation, cover crop mixes and multi-purpose cover crops.

10-10:45 a.m. — Understanding Soil Health and Quality on Your Farm with Mark Goodson, NRCS

10:45-11:20 a.m. — Summer annuals discussion with Dave Wilson, and David Hunsberger, King’s AgriSeeds.

11:20 a.m.-12 p.m. — Current manure regulations and manure management plans: Measuring nutrients on your farm, understanding nutrient inputs and exports, and balancing nutrients for optimum production and minimal environmental impact with Beth Futrick, Blair Conservation District.

12 -12:45 p.m. — Lunch.

12:45-1 p.m. — Travel to Penn England farm field site.

1:20-1:45 p.m. — Examine and discuss cover crop mixture left in the field and the residual killed cover crop material in the growing no-till corn with Dave Wilson, Mark Goodson, Jim Biddle and Penn England Farm personnel.

1:45-2:20 p.m. — Examine soil pit with Mark Goodson, NRCS. Discussion of soil quality and soil health parameters with Mark Goodson, Dave Wilson and Beth Futrick.

2:20-2:50 p.m. — Examine strips of summer annuals (sudangrass, sorghum-sudangrass, forage sorghum) with Dave Wilson, David Hunsberger, and Jim Biddle.

2:50-3:15 p.m. — Examine static display of no-till equipment (no-till corn planter, no-till drill). Discussion about no-till equipment considerations and application with Dave Wilson, Gordon England, Mark Goodson, Jim Biddle and David Hunsberger.

3:15 p.m. — Finish up with question and answer session.

Contact Genevieve Slocum at 717-687-6224 or Beth Futrick at 814-696-0877x5 for further information.

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