Integrating Continuous Living Cover (CLC) into Farming Systems through Professional Development

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2013: $74,658.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Richard Warner
Green Lands Blue Waters

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Nuts: hazelnuts
  • Additional Plants: native plants


  • Animal Production: grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, winter forage, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: agroforestry, crop rotation, continuous cropping, cover crops, double cropping, forestry, intercropping, multiple cropping, application rate management, relay cropping, strip tillage, contour farming
  • Education and Training: extension, networking, workshop
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels
  • Natural Resources/Environment: grass waterways, riparian buffers
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, permaculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development


    The Green Lands Blue Waters (GLBW) partnership organized six workshops on Integrating Continuous Living Cover (CLC) into Farming Systems, three on August 4, 2014 and three on August 6, 2015. The project team compiled the first edition of the Continuous Living Cover Manual prior to the 2014 workshop. Based on input from trainers and trainees, the Manual was updated and expanded prior to the 2015 workshops.

    More than 40 people contributed to preparing the Manual, including experts from area universities and experts associated with the Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group, Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group, and the Midwest Cover Crops Council. The Manual served as the basis for train-the-trainer events, where 93 agriculture and natural resource professionals from Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin learned about the concepts and practices of CLC farming. We recruited trainees directly from local agency office nearby the training venues and following recommendations from our partners. Each year, the workshops were simultaneously held in three locations. For the morning sessions, all sites were connected by state-of-the-art web-based video conferencing. Each site had multiple cameras, microphones, and super-size TV monitors. Trainees saw and heard presentations made from any location and discussions extended across all locations. The morning sessions provided information on the latest science behind CLC farming, including use of CLC crops in multi-year rotations and the importance of perennial crops placement on the landscape. In the afternoon, each of the three trainee groups visited one or two farms where farmers showed their CLC practices, followed by discussions among the trainees, farmers, and local experts in CLC farming. CEU credits were available to participants. Evaluations were conducted at the start and end of the day-long workshops; approximately six months after the workshops; and again 18 months after the 2014 events. Trainees and instructors were added to the GLBW mailing list and are receiving the GLBW Update, which provides information about CLC farming news, publications, and events and professional development opportunities in the region on a twice-monthly basis.

    Project objectives:

    The main objectives of this SARE PDP project were to create the CLC Farming Manual used in the CLC farming workshops and to organize and host day-long train-the-trainer workshops attended by agriculture and natural resource professionals. The long-term objective of the project is to help increase adoption of CLC farming in the Upper Mississippi River Basin; with goals of improving resilience, long-term profitability, and environmental performance of farms.

    Overall performances objectives for the two year project were to: 1) Publish the CLC Manual 2) Organize and host six workshops at venues with appropriate video–conferencing technology and include farm tours; and 3) Recruit and train 90 agricultural and conservation professionals; approximately 15 at each of the six locations.

    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.