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Annual Conference to Focus On No-Till and Cover Crop Strategies

By Kirsten Workman

South Burlington--On Feb. 19 farmers will have an opportunity to hear from researchers, soil scientists, field crop growers and other experts about no-till and cover crop strategies to improve profitability at the 2015 No-Till and Cover Crop Symposium.

Speakers from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Quebec and Vermont will address a wide range of topics from the basics of no-till to more advanced discussions on integrating cover crops into no-till systems to improve soil health and crop production. The event will be held at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center, just off I-89 at Exit 14W in South Burlington.

The symposium, the only one of its kind in New England, will be hosted by University of Vermont (UVM) Extension's Champlain Valley Crop, Soil and Pasture Team in Middlebury and the Northwest Crops and Soils Program in St. Albans. The registration fee, payable by Feb. 16, is $75 and includes a hot lunch and snacks.

To register online or view the conference brochure, go to If requiring a disability-related accommodation to participate, please contact Donna Brown at (802) 388-4969 or (800) 956-1125 (toll-free in Vermont) by Feb. 5.

The keynote speaker is John Koepke of Koepke Farms in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, who has utilized no-till practices and integrated cover crops on the family's soil-based dairy farm for more than two decades. Koepke will share his experiences with how these practices impact their farm business and crop production.

Farmers will hear from Richard Hall on how he has successfully used no-till and, more recently cover crops, on his farm in East Montpelier. Hall also will participate in a farmer panel with Shawn Gingue, Fairfax; Ron and Chad Machia, Sheldon; Scott Magnan, St. Albans; and Gerard Vorsteveld, Panton; to discuss highlights from the 2015 National No Tillage Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Two Pennsylvania crop experts will describe successful strategies and equipment for "planting green," the practice of no-till planting of cash crops into a living cover crop. Loganton farmer Lucas Criswell will explain how to make the most of cover crop residue in a no-till system. Gerard Troisi, a crop advisor and production consultant with Upper Susquehanna Crop Management Associates in Millmont, will talk about how to set up a no-till and cover crop system to reduce weed pressure, achieve less costly weed control and improve both seedbed conditions and nutrient cycling.

Other speakers include Pierre-Olivier Gaucher and Patrice Vincent from Quebec, who will describe their innovative crop-rotation strategy that includes cover crops, winter cereals and interseeding in corn. UVM Extension's Heather Darby and Kirsten Workman will provide an update on their research on short-season corn and cover crop systems in Vermont. Jeff Carter, UVM Extension agronomist, will highlight new developments in cover cropping and no-till strategies since the first annual symposium held last February.

An exhibitor fair will feature vendors of equipment, supplies, education and services for producers to implement no-till and cover cropping practices on their farms.

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