Educating Agricultural Professionals and Extension Educators in Developing Sustainable and Resilient Cropping Systems through Integration of Cover Crops

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $59,296.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Ajay Nair
Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    In Iowa and adjacent north-central states majority of cover crop work has been conducted in corn and soybean farming systems. Fruit and vegetable cropping systems are still lagging in efficiently integrating cover crops as a sustainable crop rotation strategy. With growing demand for sustainably grown produce, growers require information on types of cover crops, their growth stages, management techniques, and potential challenges associated with their use. Growers need extension specialists and agricultural educators with knowledge and skills to assist them in implementing a sustainable farm plan integrating cover crops. This project focuses on training agricultural professionals on concepts and application of cover crops in fruit and vegetable production systems. The project will organize statewide cover crop training workshops and field days for Commercial Horticulture Field Specialists, County Horticulturists, and members of organizations such as Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, Regional Food Systems Working Group, Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and Practical Farmers of Iowa. Workshops speakers would include researchers, farmers and ranchers who have successfully incorporated cover crops in their production systems. The project will strengthen the scope of professional development activity by organizing trips to two regional fruit & vegetable conferences that include sessions on cover cropping and agricultural sustainability.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The overall objective is to train county and regional extension personnel and agricultural instructors on sustainability issues in fruit and vegetable production systems with a special emphasis on cover crops. Core objectives of the project include: • Develop a comprehensive educational program, including workshops and field days, for extension staff and agricultural professionals to increase their knowledge and understanding of cover crops, cover cropping concepts, techniques, and management protocols • Develop a brief and concise extension bulletin that can be interpreted and used by extension staff, agricultural professionals, and the end client (fruit and vegetable growers) • Connect agricultural professionals and educators to professional development opportunities available in the Midwest region focusing on cover cropping strategies • As a long term strategy, facilitate integration of cover crops into fruit and vegetable production systems to create diverse and resilient cropping systems The target audience for this project are Horticulture Field Extension Specialists from Iowa and Missouri, ISU Research & Demonstration Farm Superintendents, County Extension Horticulturists, Regional Food Systems Working Group members, and Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and Practical Farmers of Iowa board members.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.