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News Release

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Cooperative Extension hosts Cover Crops and Soil Health Forums across the state on February 18

Little Rock, Ark., Jan. 29, 2014 – The public is invited to attend a free, live broadcast of the National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health and discuss how to build soil health, improve yields, curb erosion, manage pests and build resilience in their farming system.  On Feb. 18, beginning at 8:45 a.m., the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Cooperative Extension Service offices will host Cover Crops and Soil Health Forums in Conway, Keiser, Marianna, Monticello, Pine Bluff, and Stuttgart where farmers will have the opportunity to learn from one another while exploring local and national perspectives on cover crops.  The forums are open to anyone who would like to hear about and discuss the prospects for cover crops and soil health improvements on Arkansas farms and ranches.

The forums will open with a live video internet-stream from the National Cover Crop and Soil Health Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, and will feature Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Howard G. Buffett, followed by panel presentations from leading cover crop farmers from across the nation.  The six concurrent forum locations throughout Arkansas will provide NRCS and our conservation partners and stakeholders with a unique opportunity to discuss ways we can more fully organize and energize our efforts to enable the soil health movement—at the grassroots level. 

“There has been a significant increase in the number of acres being managed with cover crops as a part of the cropping system in Arkansas,” said State Conservationist Mike Sullivan.  “These local forums represent a way to include farmers, educators and researchers across the state in the emerging conversation about the use and benefits of cover crops and soil health management.”

Both the national conference and the local forums are jointly funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, with planning support from NRCS, the Midwest Cover Crops Council and the Soil and Water Conservation Society.  The national conference will bring together key leaders, researchers, innovators and policy makers in American agriculture to examine the benefits, opportunities and challenges associated with improving the health and function of our soils through the adoption of soil health management systems.  Attendees of the local forums will also have the opportunity to contribute ideas and comments on cover crops and soil health back to the leadership group at the national conference.  These comments will be collected by staff at the local sites as part of the local discussion process.

“These forums will provide an opportunity for farmers and ranchers to exchange information, discuss opportunities for collaboration, and learn about new and successful practices related to cover crops and soil health,” said John Lee, NRCS state agronomist.  “We hope that many producers will attend the forums and will come prepared and ready to share with us their questions and ideas.”

The local forum locations and moderators are:

Location                                                                           Moderator

Faulkner County Cooperative Extension Service                  Debbie Moreland
110 South Amity Rd.                                                         
Conway, AR                                                          

Northeast Research and Extension Center                          Charles Glover
1241 West County Rd.                                                       
Keiser, AR                                                             

Lon Mann Cotton Research Station                                    Alvin Peer
AR Hwy 1 South                                                               
Marianna, AR                                                        

Southeast Research and Extension Center                         Andrew Wargo
1408 Scogin Drive                                                             
Monticello, AR                                                      

S.J. Parker Agricultural Research Complex                          Dr. Leslie Glover
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff                                               
1200 North University                                                       
Pine Bluff, AR

Stuttgart Rice Experiment Station                                      Mike Daniels
2900 Hwy 130 East                                                            
Stuttgart, AR                                                         

 

Check-in for the forums will begin at 8:15 a.m.  Please R.S.V.P. Quentin Sereal at (501) 301-3115 or email quentin.sereal@ar.usda.gov to ensure adequate seating.  For more information about the Cover Crops and Soil Health Forums and to get additional details, contact John Lee at (501) 301-3173 or email john.lee@ar.usda.gov, or visit www.sare.org/covercropconference.