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Cover Crops Making an Impact in Winona County, Minnesota

Sue Glende, District Conservationist (DC) from the Lewiston, Minnesota field office enjoys working with landowners and operators on planning and applying conservation to the land in Winona County.  Since 2008, Glende has served as DC in Winona County.

In the summer of 2013 Glende met a new challenge.  A state-wide Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) announcement was made offering a 2013 Cover Crop/Prevented Planting sign-up.  The turn-around time for this sign-up was less than a week.  For Glende the challenge was doable.

One of the farmers that signed up for Cover Crops/Prevented Planting sign-up was Bruce Gilbeck, Winona County farmer.  On August 1st, Gilbeck planted a total of 102.1 acres into cover crops using a mixture of radish, sorghum/sudan grass, sunn hemp and oats. 

“All four species planted by Gilbeck had a specific purpose,” said Glende.  “Radish – break up soil compaction and serve as a nitrogen scavenger; Sorgum/Sudan grass- Organic builder and provides lasting crop residue; Sunn Hemp – Nitrogen source and recycles plant nutrients and Oats- Weed fighting element that brings forth quick growth and erosion control.”

Glende and Gilbeck visited the cover crop field on September 16.  The most visible impact species to date was the radish – having penetrated into the soil to a depth of 13 inches .  

“Gilbeck is impressed with his cover crop and the potential benefits that can occur from planting cover crops,” said Glende.  “He is looking forward to using cover crops more in the future and making additional soil health improvements on his farm.”

For more information regarding NRCS programs in Minnesota, please stop by your local NRCS office or visit the MN NRCS website