Cover crops forums to explore soil-health-building opportunities

Monday, February 3, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo -- Farmers, ranchers, researchers, agricultural business operators and conservationists are invited to participate in forums about cover crops and soil health from 8:45 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18, at nine different locations in Missouri.

The USDAs Natural Resources Conservation Service is partnering with University of Missouri Extension to sponsor the nine Missouri forums. The forums will be conducted simultaneously along with more than 200 other forums throughout the country. They will be in concert with the National Conference on cover crops and soil health in Omaha, Neb., sponsored by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

In addition to providing a venue to discuss local cover crop and soil health opportunities, benefits and barriers, the forums will feature live-streaming video of the national conference's opening session featuring presentations by Howard G. Buffett, NRCS Chief Jason Weller, Ray Gaesser, Iowa farmer and president of the American Soybean Association and a panel of farmers.

"By taking advantage of communications technology, local participants will be able to view discussions about the soil-health movement nationally," Missouri State Conservationist J.R. Flores said. "Then local farmers and ranchers can discuss the benefits of healthier soil and how to improve soil health on their land."

Flores said a soil-health expert will be at each of the nine forums in Missouri to lead the local discussion and answer questions. He said forum participants will also have the opportunity to provide ideas and recommendations that will be forwarded to national researchers and policymakers.

The nine Missouri forum locations are St. Joseph, Warrensburg, Columbia, Mexico, Shelbyville, Perryville, Jackson, Greenfield and Carthage.

Because seating is limited, reservations are required. To participate, contact Teana Cook at 573-876-0901 or teana.cook@mo.usda.gov.