Thelma Velez, OFRF Analysis and Schooling Director, and Mary Hathaway, OFRF Analysis and Schooling Coordinator, not too long ago attended the 2023 Southern Cowl Crop Council Convention in Baton Rouge, LA. On this weblog put up Mary shares among the highlights from thought-provoking classes and stimulating conversations occurring on the planet of canopy crops.
February 15-16, 2023 the Southern Cowl Crops Council (SCCC) hosted their second bi-annual convention in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The convention introduced collectively farmers, researchers, trade professionals, and extension providers for 2 days of knowledge-sharing and networking by means of producer panels, breakout classes, poster classes, and subject demonstrations. The convention was additionally an important alternative for us to share OFRF’s Southern soil well being Guidebook and our new, free on-line course: Soil Well being Methods for the Southern Area.
The breakout classes included a variety of subjects, comparable to: Cowl Crop Use in Natural and Vegetable Programs; Using Cowl Crop Biomass for Forage; Cowl Crop Impacts on Pest and Weed Administration; Unintended Penalties of Cowl Crops; Selecting Cowl Crop Varieties, along with classes on farmer diversifications to gear, and naturally, soil well being. As with many good conferences, you could find your self ruminating on which would be the most attention-grabbing or informative classes to attend. As somebody who has felt the concern of lacking out on a compelling presentation, I used to be relieved to search out that the convention organizers designed the agenda utilizing a flipped mannequin in order that attendees had a second alternative to take part in any of the given classes they could have in any other case missed.
The specialty crop farmer panel above was particularly vigorous. From Left to Proper, Donna Isaacs, govt director for Campti Subject of Goals, John Bitter, farmer and proprietor of Frog Music Organics in Florida, Arnold Caylor, former director of North Alabama Horticultural Analysis Middle and farmer, and Ed James, citrus grower and proprietor/operator at J&R Groves in Florida.
Whereas Donna Isaacs is the ED at Campti Subject of Goals, a Louisiana non-profit targeted on outreach and training in historically-underserved communities, she additionally co-owns and operates DeLaTerre Permaculture Farm, a 14-acre diversified farm the place they assist and train starting farmers tips on how to develop utilizing regenerative natural practices and likewise implement No-Until Natural Market Backyard Manufacturing statewide as a part of a USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant. John Bitter and his accomplice, Amy Van Scoik, of Frog Music Organics develop over 80 kinds of fruits, greens, and herbs in Alachua County, Florida. Additionally they elevate chickens and pork on pasture and combine their livestock and cropping techniques with the usage of cowl crops. Arnold Caylor has been utilizing cowl crops in vegetable manufacturing techniques in Alabama for a few years. He has expertise utilizing a wide range of mixtures for summer time and winter cowl crop, together with rising brassicas for pest management, cereals for biomass and weed management, and legumes for nitrogen. Ed James, grows citrus on 45 acres and now incorporates a couple of dozen totally different annual cowl crop varieties. He additionally educates different citrus growers on the advantages of canopy crops supplies one hundred pc of the nitrogen in his grove with cowl crops.
The poster classes confirmed loads of nice analysis is going on at universities throughout the South with respect to nutrient administration, constructing soil well being, and using forage for dairy operations. The spotlight of the SCCC was the chance to go to the Doyle Chambers Central Analysis Station at LSU’s Ag Middle, the place researchers had ready subject demonstrations. Whereas the climate had threatened rain, it held off and gave us a windy overcast day excellent for hay rides by means of the fields. We realized about the usage of know-how, comparable to drones and PlantMap 3D cameras, for measuring cowl crop biomass, in addition to, the small-scale vegetable backyard cowl crop mixes comparisons earlier than we needed to rush to catch our flights dwelling.
Whereas the producer panels, breakout classes, and subject demonstrations had been all very enlightening, I feel the true magic of the occasion occurred within the conversations in between classes. Covid-19 led organizers to cancel the 2021 convention, so us passionate advocates and practitioners within the cowl cropping world had been completely satisfied to assemble and share the work that had transpired over the previous few years. I used to be so grateful to get an opportunity to meet up with colleagues, study extra about ongoing cowl crop analysis, and sensible cowl crop practices that farmers are integrating into their farm. I can’t look ahead to the following convening in 2025, Puerto Rico, right here we come!
Discover out extra in regards to the Southern Cowl Crops Council and the nice work they’re doing right here: https://southerncovercrops.org/
Due to the parents at Southern SARE for offering a scholarship for my colleague Thelma and me to attend this occasion!