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Winona County self-guided cover crop tour happening now until July

The Winona County Soil & Water Conservation District is facilitating a nine-stop, self-guided tour scheduled to run through the end of July.

Sheldon Lance soil Win post may 2021.jpg
Contributed by Winona SWCD

Residents and visitors to two southern Minnesota counties can learn firsthand how farmers there are using cover crops to better their soil.

The Winona County Soil & Water Conservation District is facilitating a nine-stop, self-guided tour scheduled to run through the end of July.

The Waseca SWCD, about 100 miles west of Winona County, also offered a 10-site tour hosted by eight landowners that wrapped up this month. Both tours started in April and welcome visitors throughout the growing season, to mark the progress of crops.

"I'm blessed to work alongside a lot of different farmers that are being innovative and trying different things with cover crops," said Lance Klessig, resource specialist with the Winona County SWCD. "So we put together a self-guided tour this spring, because of some of the COVID restrictions compared to having a traditional field day."

Klessig said the tour is a great opportunity to showcase the numerous ways that cover crops are being successfully implemented in southeast Minnesota. Examples of cover crops on the tour are roller crimping mature rye with soybeans, interseeding v1-v4 corn, planting corn and soybeans green, 60 inch corn with interseeding, double cropping triticale and no-till soybeans and making cover crops work with manure.

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Klessig said most of the farmers on the tour have had "many years of success with cover crops."

"Just trying essentially to showcase some new and innovative things, but also some long-standing people that have had really good luck with cover crops," Klessig said. "Even on 300- to 500-plus acres that they're using with cover crops."

He said so far, the reaction to the self-guided tour has been very positive. Each site has a sign with the name of the farmers with a phone number, along with some goals, objectives and details of the practices they are using.

"We've had people from northern Minnesota come down or people that are coming through on the interstate, just hop off and maybe visit a spot or two," Klessig said.

A couple of weeks ago, Klessig took a bunch of high school and middle school students out to four of the sites for part of an ag program.

"I often get a text or phone calls from the host farmers saying, yep, I saw another couple vehicles drive by last night and stop at the fields," he said. "So there's been a lot of attention."

Visit https://winonaswcd.org/11%20Final%202021%20Cover%20Crop%20Tour.pdf to learn more about the tour and where the stops are located.

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