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Future Activities

 Virtual Crop Tour September 2020.

Past Activities


Opportunities to incorporate cover crops into various farming Systems

{Rain or Shine}

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019 NDSU Campus Fargo, ND

NDSU Research Fields 0.4 mile west on 15th Ave. N from the

15th Ave. N and 18th St. N corner, Fargo, ND

8:00-8:30 a.m.            Registration

8:30 a.m.                     Welcome Marisol Berti 

8:40 a.m.                     Field tour at NDSU    (Fargo campus site)

-Cover crop species (21 species) with two seeding dates, available for various

 cropping situations [Marisol Berti] 

-Cover crops and soil health [Abbey Wick]

-Sunnhemp, forage sorghum and kenaf harvest date trial [Marisol Berti]

-Corn interseeded with cover crops [Mattie Schmitt and Joel Ransom]

-Full-season cover crops for grazing [Marisol Berti]

10:30 a.m. Travel to Northwest 22 arrive 10:45

Field tour site NDSU NW 22

-Timing of seeding a cover crop into soybean [Hans Kandel and Alan Peterson]

-Cover crops (rye, camelina, HRWW, HRSW, Radish, and Faba bean) planted after wheat [Marcus Mack and Joel Ransom]

-Cowpea; seed production in North Dakota and use as cover crop [Hans Kandel]

Travel back to campus field tour location 11:55 a.m.

12:30 p.m.       Lunch will be served in a tent at the campus field tour site

1:15 p.m.         -Corn and sugarbeet following fall-seeded cover crops, and nutrient

            cycling [Sergio Cabello and Dave Franzen]

-Interseeded cover crops into sugarbeet [Amitava Chatterjee]

            -Using cover crops to manage soybean cyst nematode [Marisol Berti]

-Cover crops discussion, Q &A session [Berti, Wick, Franzen, Ransom, Kandel, Amitava]

3:00 p.m.         Adjourn


Cover Crops for Prevented Planting- Café Talks

We are planning a series of Café Talks on cover crops in prevented planting situations.  These will be an excellent opportunity to meet with NDSU Specialists and Researchers to run through options and we will have insurance representatives there to provide input during the conversation.   Like all Café Talks, these will be a discussion of options for mixes based on next crop in rotation, soil type, herbicide residual, fertility amongst any other questions that come up.  No need to RSVP, just show up. 

Bring information on herbicide applications, fertility, next crop in rotation and goals so that we can customize plans.

Here’s the schedule:

June 17, 9:30 – 11:00    Casselton            

Governors Inn, Flickertale Room, 2050 Governors Drive, 701-347-4524

Specialists: Joe Ikley (weeds), Marisol Berti (cover crops), Dave Franzen (fertility), Abbey Wick (soil health)

                Coffee and Muffins provided

June 17, 12:30 – 2:00  Valley City             

AgCountry Farm Credit Services, 220 Winter Show Rd SW, 701-845-1751

Specialists: Joe Ikley (weeds), Marisol Berti (cover crops), Dave Franzen (fertility), Abbey Wick (soil health)

                Lunch provided

June 18, 10:30 – 12:30   Gwinner                 

Springs Golf Course, 565 Bogey Road, 701-678-3910

                Specialists: Joe Ikley (weeds), Dave Franzen (fertility), Abbey Wick (soil health)

                Lunch provided

June 20, 11:00 – 12:30    Jamestown

                IDK Bar and Grill, 1009 13th St NE, 701-952-5550 

Specialists: Joe Ikley (weeds), Marisol Berti (cover crops), Abbey Wick (soil health)

Lunch provided


The 2019 Café Talks continue to be supported by the ND Corn Council, ND Soybean Council and ND Wheat Commission. 

Abbey Wick, Associate Professor Soil Science, NDSU Extension Soil Health Specialist  701-850-6458

Winter Camelina Open House & Field Day

The University of Minnesota Forever Green Initiative and the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) invited processors, food entrepreneurs, culinary professionals, growers, and the curious public to an open house event on June 11, 2019 at the Southern Research and Outreach Center (12298 350th Avenue, Waseca, MN).

Attendees learned about winter camelina, an exciting new oilseed crop currently in the research and development phase, which has the potential to transform food, fuel and feed in Minnesota. University of Minnesota and USDA-ARS lead current research efforts for camelina, which shows great promise as a plant-based protein source and produces a high quality, edible oil with high levels of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin E when pressed. Furthermore, the seed meal remaining after oil processing is useful as a nutritious FDA-approved livestock feed.

The Field Day event highlighted current research and work underway to launch winter camelina into Minnesota’s agricultural landscape. Visitors will see winter camelina growing in the field, learn from UMN agronomists best production practices and sample food prepared using camelina oil. In addition, an oil press, provided by AURI, will press camelina seed to show how the oil and meal is extracted and the UMN Food Science department will be on-hand talking about the many potential opportunities for end-uses of camelina.  A lunch featuring food prepared using camelina oil was served. 





Cropping System Economics Workshop

Learn how to properly evaluate financial, economic, and environmental tradeoffs among alternative cropping systems. Includes exposure to cropping system concepts and application of models to compare alternative cropping systems. A professional development opportunity for Extension specialists and agents.

Skype Meeting.

9:00am – 10:00am Central Time


February 8, 2019


Virtual, ND


David Ripplinger

Phone: 701.231.5265
Web site:


Please register at: if you plan to attend.



Soil & Salinity Economics Workshop

Learn how to properly evaluate financial, economic, and environmental tradeoffs among alternative soil health management strategies. Includes coverage of short- and long-term impacts and application of spreadsheet models to compare soil management practices. A professional development opportunity for Extension specialists and agents.

Skype Meeting.

9:00am – 10:00am Central Time


February 22, 2019


Virtual, ND


David Ripplinger

Phone: 701.231.5265
Web site:


Please register at: if you plan to attend.




Soil Health Bus Tour

NDSU Soil Health Bus Tour on July 25-26





On farm replicated trails

On-farm trials were conducted with the new interseeder in Rutland and Gardner, ND in 2017. All nutrient cycling studies in both corn and soybean were done in the on-farm replicated trials (results in Objective 1d).

In Morris, MN 5 acres were planted with winter camelina in the fall of 2016. In May 2017, soybean was relayed planted into standing camelina and camelina seed was harvested at the end of June. Strips of cover crops (winter camelina, winter rye, and no cover crop) were planted during the R7 and R5 stage in soybean and corn respectively at the Chad Roloffson’s farm in Barrett, MN on September 17, 2017. The cover crops were planted using a modified High-Boy Avenger air seeder. One set of cover crop strips was planted with the seeds being placed at the soil surface, while the other set of strips was planted with the seeds being blown into the air above the crop to simulate airplane seeding. Additionally, a no-till drill was used to plant the cover crops via direct seeding into spring wheat residue. Cover crop establishment was visually assessed in October. The cover crops established well in standing corn, however cover crop establishment failed in soybean due to herbicide residual activity.

The results of alfalfa-corn intercropping in 2016 and 2017 showed a reduction in maize grain yield, thus on-farm establishment of this system needs to be studied further. On-farm replicated trials of alfalfa-corn intercropping will be considered for 2018 season.

Extension activities:

On February 1, Dr. Wick and cooperating farmers conducted a farmer mentoring workshop for 20 North Dakota State College of Science students.  These students are generally young farmers from the region who are enrolled in a two year agricultural program and have a specific interest in using cover crops on their farms.  The Soil and Soil Water Workshop, 2018 at the Fargodome included a presentation to 225 crop consultants, farmers, and ag-industry representatives, the Corn and Soybean Expo in Fargo February 13 included a cover crop presentation and update by Dr. Wick to over 500 farmers with considerable interaction. Dr. Wick and her colleague Jodi Dejong-Hughes from University of Minnesota also addressed 150 crop consultants at the Advanced Crop Advisors Workshop, February 14, 2018.  On February 15, Dr. Wick presented to 75 MinnDak Sugar Beet Coop growers about including cover crops in the corn, soybean and wheat phases of their rotation.  The outreached as extended beyond the borders of North Dakota, with Chris Augustine, Soil Health Area Specialist from Minot, using Dr. Wick’s information in a presentation to 200 farmers at a Soil Health day in Mitchell, SD February 15, 2018.

The economic framework that incorporates environmental impacts was delivered as part of the Farm Business Management in-service in November, 2017, as part of three face-to-face local trainings in January and February 2018, and developed into an input management packaged program for county agents to deliver in February 2018.



Evaluation of extension impacts


 Field days, bus tours, and plot tours 2018

Data for six of the 15 NDSU Extension events, including field days, bus tours, and plot tours, show a total of 256 unique participants. For those whose affiliation we have, the majority were farmers (61%), followed by university personnel (19%) (Figure 25). Zip codes from 182 of the participants show them traveling from 67 different North Dakota zip codes, 19 different Minnesota zip codes, 14 South Dakota zip codes, plus three additional states and two foreign countries—Canada and China (Figure 26).


We conducted a survey of participants from these six events in January 2019 and received 64 valid surveys from the 219 participants for whom we have valid email addresses – 29% overall response rate.


All of the respondents shared information from the events they attended, and 93% reported that they used the information in their work (Figure 27).


Event impacts on grower respondents included practices they started using as a result of attending one or more of the events (Figures 28 & 29 dark green bars). Of these, the greatest percentage of respondents started using cover crops for soil moisture management (35%), followed by 31% who started to use cover crops to manage pests, 30% who started evaluating soil health in their fields, and 29% who established a cover after harvest of a cash crop. Twenty-three percent used cover crops to transition to conservation tillage practices, 22% established a cover crop in standing cash crops and used cover crops for soil erosion control. Nineteen percent of respondents used cover crops to manage problematic areas (e.g., salinity, headlands, low spots), and used cover crops for nutrient management (e.g., reducing losses, fixing nitrogen).


Over two-thirds of respondents (67%) are considering using cover crops to attract pollinators as a result of attending one or more NDSU Extension events in 2018 (light green striped bar in Figure 29). Red bars in Figure 25 indicate the percentage of respondents who are not considering adopting the practice after attending one or more of the events. Of the 52% who are not considering establishing a cover crop for grazing, only one is currently a rancher.


Workshops and professional training

NDSU hosted two workshops that contributed greatly to increasing awareness of this project’s research and findings: the Midwest Cover Crops Conference (MCCC) and the Conservation Tillage Conference (CTC). The MCCC had 199 participants, including attendees, presenters, sponsors, and exhibitors. In addition to a survey of attendees, we tracked the conference hashtag (#coverfargo) on twitter over time to document information transfer outside the meeting itself and any change over time. The day prior to the start of the conference (March 12, 2018), 19 Twitter users had tweeted about the event, and there were 34 connections among them. These connections are made when one user replies to or mentions another user using the hashtag (Figure 30). At the end of the first night of the conference (March 13, 2018), the network grew to 109 Twitter users with a total of 327 connections (Figure 31). One week after the conference (March 19, 2018), the tweeted conversations continued with a total of 201 Twitter users and 620 connections among them (Figure 32).

The 2018 CTC had 350 participants, including attendees, presenters, sponsors, and exhibitors. Nearly all (99%) of survey respondents used information from previous CTCs in their work/on their farm, and 100% reported that they would use information from the 2018 conference (Figure 33).


The greatest impacts among grower-respondents on their practices as a result of attending the CTC was their use of cereal rye as a cover crop, their use of a multi-species cover crop mix, and establishing a cover crop after harvest of a cash crop (all 19%). Nearly half (44%) of grower respondents are considering establishing a cover crop in a standing cash crop as a result of attending the CTC (Figure 34).



The evaluation of the first two years of the project in conjunction with a NC-SARE Professional Development Program (2015-2017) included the surveys of attendees to 22 field days and winter workshops with more than 500 participants.  


Workshops and professional training

During the project, we held three separate Train the Trainer workshops for cover crops; two in Fargo, ND, and one in Langdon, ND. We had 19 agents participating of the workshops. These agents accounted for about one-third of the workshop participants. Other university research and extension personnel accounted for nearly another third, and the rest included industry representatives, crop consultants, and various state and federal agencies. Attendees who completed cover crop “tests” before and after training averaged a 16% gain in scores from 64% pre-workshop to 80% post workshop in 2016. Tests scores from the 2017 workshop are incomplete, though the scores that we do have average 81% in the post test.

In addition to cover crop identification, topics covered by the experts included: cover crops grazing, soil health improvement, soil salinity control with cover crops, soybean cyst nematode reduction with cover crops, cover crops N and P uptake, nutrient cycling, soil erosion reduction, importance of mycorrhizae, and residual herbicides injury to cover crops and how to avoid it.

Train the Trainer impacts – the domino effect
The point of train the trainer events is that those attending the training will then take what they’ve learned to train others. We were very successful in this area, according to survey respondents, 81% of whom rated the workshops very or extremely useful. Key findings from the survey include:

  • 97% of respondents used what they learned to create cover crop activities in their part of the state
  • 91% shared what they learned with their colleagues
  • 89% shared what they learned with farmers


Farmer impacts and outcomes – changes in attitudes and behavior
This project is having a great impact in advancing the knowledge and adoption of cover crops in corn-soybean systems in the northern Great Plains. The graph below demonstrates the impact among survey respondents in terms of changes in their practices and potential future changes (attitudes), as a direct result of having attended one or more cover crop events between 2015 and 2017. The survey listed key practices that we covered during field days and winter workshops and asked respondents which ones they have implemented as a result of attending the events. The darker bars on the left side denote the percentage of respondents who have adopted the practices, and the lighter bars on the right are those who are considering adopting the practices. The chart lists the practices in order of highest impact to the sum of combined and potential changes. Other categories of responses not shown include “I am not considering this” or “I was already doing this prior to 2015.”

The greatest change in behavior among respondents was establishing a cover crop after harvest of a cash crop (50%) and using cover crops for soil erosion control (51%). The greatest potential for adoption of new practices include establishing a cover crop in a standing cash crop (51%) and interseeding at the time of side-dressing in corn (50%). Fifty percent or more of the respondents have either adopted or are considering adopting all but two of the practices listed – growing cover crops for seed production (39%), and interseeding in tall corn or soybean with Hegie type equipment (34%).


Field day activities in North Dakota in 2017

Two field days (15 August, Rutland, ND and 26 September Fargo, ND) were subjected to short surveys right after the event.  In summary, based on surveys conducted after the field day in Rutland, 73% of the respondents indicated that learned something useful. Additionally, 57% of the growers indicated that they would probably try interseeding a cover crop into corn and 79% in soybeans and 27% expressed interest in intercropping alfalfa in corn. Based on a survey of participants of the Fargo field day, 78% indicated that they learned something useful and 37% and 82% indicated that they would likely try intercropping cover crops into corn and soybean, respectively.

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