Cover Crop Champions & Cover Crop Driving Tour

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff.

Cover Crop Champions is an educational initiative funded through a grant from the National Wildlife Federation. There are two Cover Crop Champions programs in Ohio.  One is in the northwest corner of the state, and the other is located in west central Ohio.

The program in Northwest Ohio is being overseen by the Conservation Action Project (CAP). CAP was started in 1988 and serves the seven-county corner of Northwest Ohio which includes: Paulding, Defiance, Williams, Henry, Fulton, Wood, and Lucas. The governing board is made up of farmers, ag retailers, and agency personnel with the goal of working to help farmers and ag retailers implement conservation practices in an economically sustainable way.

Abby Wensink is the coordinator of CAP, and is administering the Cover Crop Champions grant. Cover Crop Champions utilizes the knowledge of area farmers who are experienced with cover crops. These farmers are given the title Cover Crop Champions, and they assist OSU Extension Educators along with Soil and Water and NRCS personnel to work with farmers interested in incorporating cover crops on their farms.

Cover Crops Champions, Les Siler (left), Program Coordinator Abby Wensink, (middle), and Kent Sonnenberg (right)

“The Cover Crop Champions in the CAP program include: Ron Snyder from Pemberville, Les Siler from Fayette, and Kent Sonnenberg from Holgate,” said Wensink. “These farmers have each been raising cover crops on their farms for well over 10 years and have a lot of experience in what works on their farms, and also what did not work out so well.”

“The Cover Crop Champions farmers involved in the CAP program have participated in the Field to Lake field day in Paulding County earlier in the summer, and have participated in various round-table discussions at Extension programs,” Wensink said. “They have a lot of experience, and they also have diverse farm operations, and different soil types. Kent Sonnenberg is a dairy farmer and raises cover crops on primarily clay soils. He raises cover crops to better utilize the livestock manure on his farm. Les Siler is a grain farmer, and has a combination of light sands and heavy soil types. Cover crops have improved his soil quality. Ron Snyder farms heavy clay and has worked to build up his organic matter by expanding his cropping rotation and utilizing cover crop mixes.”

Amanda Douridas is the OSU Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Champaign County, and is the Coordinator for the Cover Crop Champions program in Champaign and Logan Counties. Bob Stoll with the Logan County Land Trust assists as an outreach partner. Five Cover Crops Champions farmers have been identified and are assisting with programming in the area. They include: Jack Sommers from Urbana, Tim McDaniel from Urbana, Linda Vernon from West Liberty, Tim Lyden from Bellefontaine, and Tim Smith from West Liberty.

“Linda Vernon and Tim Lyden recently participated in a podcast that is currently available on the website,” Douridas said. “Jack Sommers and Tim McDaniel participated on a previous podcast. They have also all participated in some small group programs and roundtable discussions on their farms.”

The Cover Crop Champions in Logan and Champaign Counties hosted a Cover Crop Drive It Yourself Tour on Thursday, Sept. 17 from 5-8 p.m.

“The drive it yourself tour is an opportunity to visit three different fields to view cover crops planted in August,” Douridas said. “The Cover Crop Champion farmers will be on hand to answer questions and discuss challenges and opportunities in using cover crops. The total drive time is estimated at just under 30 minutes and the three farms can be visited in any order. Refreshments will also be served at each location, and there is no cost to attend.”

Field Locations for the driving tour are as follows:

Field #1 is hosted by Jack Sommers: Hoffman Farm, Hammond Rd, Cable near Mingo

Field #2 is hosted by Tom Smith: 2684 Mt. Tabor Rd., West Liberty

Field #3 is hosted by Tim Lyden: near 5745 St Rt 47 E Bellefontaine

For additional information about the driving tour you can contact Amanda Douridas at the Champaign County Extension office at (937)-484-1526, or by e-mail at: Douridas.9@osu.edu.

Map link: http://go.osu.edu/cctourmap

Flyer and RSVP: http://go.osu.edu/CCChampions

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