ASHLAND – Unusually wet weather patterns in 2019 have left many Ashland County farmers with bare fields. And those farmers with crops in the ground may already be thinking about how they can prevent runoff and improve soil health next year if a similar weather pattern emerges. For both sets of farmers, cover crops may be part of the solution.
Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Ashland Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will host a Cover Crop Info Night beginning at 6:30 p.m. on July 22. The meeting will be held at David Elson’s Farm located at 904 County Road 601, Ashland in Orange Township. Pizza and refreshments will be offered before the event starting at 6:00 p.m.
The program will focus on two primary programs: Ashland SWCD’s new aerial cover crop seeding program and NRCS’s recently announced cover crop disaster program.
Due to growing interest in cover crops across the state, Ashland SWCD will be offering a coordinated aerial cover crop seeding for farmers in early September out of the Ashland County Airport. The program allows farmers to plant cover crops into their standing cash crop, allowing the cover crop to take root prior to harvest, preventing exposed soil during and after harvest that can result in erosion.
Aerial seeding also helps eliminate the time crunch of getting back into a field to plant cover post-harvest - a challenge many Ashland County farmers faced last fall with heavy rainfall patterns that have continued into the spring.
This spring’s wet conditions and disaster conditions have resulted in USDA/NRCS investing $4 million into recovery efforts targeted to cover crop cost share. By providing this help, farmers are able to plant cover crops, so their fields will not go unplanted this year. Utilizing cover crops will also improve the soil health to farmer’s fields by adding nutrients and organic matter back into the ground.
“NRCS can be a valuable partner to help Ohio landowners with their agricultural recovery effort,” said NRCS State Conservationist Terry Cosby. “This special sign-up encourages farmers to plant cover crops to improve water quality and soil health, prevent soil erosion, and suppress weeds on areas not planted to cover crops.”
Cover crops are a valuable management method to protect the soil, suppress weeds, prevent erosion, and increase organic water wand water retention, allowing farmers to proactively prepare for the 2020 crop year.
Farmers attending the program will learn more about the programs available to help farmers and can complete applications at the event.
The program is free, but RSVPs are requested to Ashland SWCD at 419-281-7645 by July 22 at 4 p.m.