Kernza, Cover Crops and Conservation Field Day at Lancaster July 19

Daniel H. Smith, Nutrient and Pest Management Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Kernza, Cover Crops and Conservation Field Day will provide research updates on projects that enhance soil health and farm profits, as well as an opportunity to see a rainfall simulator.

Date: July 19 9:30-12:00

Location: Lancaster Ag Research Station, 7396 WI 35 & 81, Lancaster, WI 53813

No advanced registration is required and the field day is free.

  1. Kernza is a variety of intermediate wheat grass that has gone through 6 generations of breeding and selection for seed size by The Land Institute. The goal is to develop a perennial grain that does not need to be planted annually and that can have a dual role as a resilient livestock forage that produces when other cool season forages shut down from moisture stress. Wheatgrass develops a massive root system. Field scale plots have been established at Lancaster and multiple local farms in SW Wisconsin. Lancaster ARS is one of the grazing sites. We’ll observe plots and see what yield and quality data can tell us of Kernza’s potential for grazing and grain.
  2. Wisconsin producers are quickly adopting cover crops as a strategy to conserve soil, capture nutrients and build soil health. Cover Crops after wheat or corn silage are simple. However, our short growing season can make cover crops a challenge after corn and soybeans. The second update will review success with interseeding cover crops into V5 corn so a growing plant is already established by crop harvest and is able to grow through fall. We’ll be looking at shade tolerance and timing for successful establishment.
  3. Rainfall simulation, Sauk County LCD. What we do on our land . . . matters. No one thinks they have soil erosion, yet the evidence is clear after each passing storm, soil moves. The rainfall simulator provides an engaging demonstration of the impact of different cropping and tillage systems on water infiltration rates and runoff. “It’s not how much rain you get, it’s how much you keep”, Kit Pharo.