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Pigeon Falls —Dan Wiese, Nick Miller, and Joe Bragger set to be cover crop panelists at the upcoming UW Discovery Farms conference.

Dan, Nick, and Joe, all Wisconsin farmers, have been experimenting with cover crops for years and are prepared to discuss methods of establishment, costs and benefits, and varieties that work for them. Each panelist will complement their talk with photos and video highlighting their methods with plenty of time for questions from the audience.

Dan Wiese, along with cousins Jon and Ross, continues to explore multi-species cover crop mixes on Wiese Brothers Farms, a 6,000-acre dairy located near Greenleaf. The Wieses are committed to cover crops because they see a yield response and improvements to soil health, better drainage, and less compaction. They apply manure directly into established cover crop fields using a low disturbance manure applicator. In order to tweak equipment, they video the planting process and will highlight some shots at the conference.

On Miller Farms near Oconomowoc, it is all about trying out mixes and keeping costs low. Nick Miller is determined to find a place for cover crops in their corn-soybean and corn-soybean-wheat rotation. He’s tried a wide range of covers and mixes from solid stands of radish to a five-way custom mix of peas, radish, rape, sorghum sudan, and sunflowers after winter wheat. The economics aren’t left out of the experimentation: Miller keeps to a strict budget (under $20/ac) when selecting his seed mix. Hear about what mixes have worked best and what these cover crops mean for corn yield and nitrogen rates.

Joe Bragger is always up to something new on the 300-cow, 100% no-till Bragger Family Dairy in Independence, Wisconsin. With slopes ranging from 0 to 35%, cover crops play a valuable role in erosion prevention. He currently seeds alfalfa into standing rye after corn silage and uses the rye as a nurse crop for alfalfa and as a forage. The farm began using cover crops 10 years ago and he has been trying different types ever since. A fertilizer buggy is used to broadcast rye and is usually followed up with a manure application. With 10 years of tinkering under his belt, Joe’s got lots of stories and even more insight.

Sarah Carlson, Midwest Cover Crop Director for Practical Farmers of Iowa, will moderate the cover crop panel, in addition to giving a talk on how to prioritize for success. She works with dozens of farmers across Iowa conducting on-farm research to answer questions like can cover crops pay? How will my cover crop impact future corn and soybean yields? Can I reduce nitrogen following a cereal rye cover crop? What about seeding cover crops at V6?

Cover crops are just one of several hot topics to be addressed at the 5th annual UW Discovery Farms conference on December 13 from 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Glacier Canyon Conference Center, Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells. Registration is $40 for members of sponsoring organizations or $50 for non-members and includes a noon meal.

Registration is now open online at www.uwdiscoveryfarms.org.

Questions? email callie.herron@ces.uwex.edu or call 715.983.5668.

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