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

2014 Annual Report for ENC13-141

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

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


The Green Lands Blue Waters (GLBW) initiative organized its first three workshops on Integrating Continuous Living Cover (CLC) into Farming Systems on August 4, 2014. Prior to the start of the workshops, the project team compiled the first edition of the Continuous Living Cover Manual, which was used in the workshops and is available in pdf format on the GLBW website.

More than 30 people contributed to preparing the Manual, including experts from area universities and representatives from the Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group, Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group, and the Midwest Cover Crops Council. The Manual served as the basis for a train-the-trainer event on August 4th, where 46 agriculture and natural resource professionals from four states learned about the concepts and practices of CLC farming. Workshops were simultaneously held in three locations, two in Minnesota and one in Iowa. 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 at each 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. Trainees and instructors were all added to the subscription for the GLBW Update, which provides information about CLC news, publications, and events in the region on a twice-monthly basis.

Objectives/Performance Targets

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 2014 were to:

  • Publish the first edition of the CLC Manual
  • Organize and host three workshops at venues with appropriate technology and include farm tours; and
  • Recruit and train 45 agricultural and conservation professionals; approximately 15 at each location.


  1. In July 2014 the GLBW Regional Office released the CLC Manual in print and online versions. The print version was provided to training participants. Production of the Manual directly involved more than 30 people as contributors or advisors. It includes an overview of CLC farming systems; agronomic information on CLC crops; sections on integrating CLC into multi-year rotations and optimizing location of perennial for maximum farm and environmental benefits; farmer case studies illustrating CLC practices; and informative annexes, including a bibliography.
  2. CLC Workshop locations were in Willmar and Worthington in Minnesota, and Webster City, Iowa. Finding locations with appropriate technology was a challenge. Prior to the workshops, each site was visited by members of the project team and the on-line technology evaluated by our technology support group.
  3. Forty-six trainees were recruited for the 2014 workshops: Willmar 14, Worthington 17, and Webster City 15; including 15 from SWCD offices, 7 from NRCS, 5 Extension, 5 other state agencies, and 5 from not-for-profit organizations.
  4. Regional CLC experts from the project team prepared training presentations to be viewed live at all three workshops locations. For each of the workshop sites, three CLC experts and one or more farmers were recruited to provide local training support.
  5. The workshops were held on August 4th, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. For the morning sessions, Internet-based video technology was used to link the three workshop groups. Question and Answer sessions followed sets of presentations; inquiries and responses were heard and seen at all three locations. Despite a few glitches, the technology was positively rated by the participants, receiving an average score of 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 3; no one rated the technology below average (2). In the afternoon, each workshop group participated in farm tours: 2 farm locations associated with Worthington, 2 with Willmar, and 1 with Webster City. The tours featured examples of CLC farming and were led by the farmers, with discussion sessions co-led by project team members.
  6. Pre- and post-workshop surveys were administered the day of the event to the 46 trainees who attended the workshops. A follow-up survey was sent by email to the trainees six months following the workshops.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Short-Term and intermediate Outcomes:

  • 46 participants were trained in CLC farming practices, including integration of CLC crops into rotational cropping systems, and optimizing placement of perennial crops on the landscape.
  • 90% of trainees reported improved understanding of one or more CLC farming practice
  • 82% of trainees reported improved understanding of integration of CLC practices into crop rotations.
  • 62% of trainees reported improved understanding of placement of CLC practices on the landscape.
  • 100% of trainees reported they were more prepared to advise or recommend CLC practices.
  • 100% of trainees reported they were more likely to recommend CLC practices.


The top rated aspects of the training were, on a scale of 1 (effective), 2 (neutral) and 3 (effective):

  • Training on CLC in rotations (2.80)
  • Farm visits (2.75)
  • Training on location of CLC on the landscape (2.72)


Based on a survey six months following the workshops, with 19 responses from the 46 trainees:

  • 95% of respondents are now using or recommending farmers use one or more CLC practices. Only 35% of trainees reported using or recommending CLC practices prior to the workshop.
  • 58% of the trainees have maintained contact with other trainees for the workshop, including 20% who had collaborated with other workshop trainees in hosting a farm field day, workshop, or other training event presenting CLC farming practices.
  • 68% of the trainees have used one or more sections of the CLC Manual in their work. Several comments received in the 6-month survey indicated that people appreciated having that resource and intended to use it, even if they hadn’t found an opportunity to do so yet.


Rhonda Glidersleeve

[email protected]
State Grazing Specialist
University of Wisconsin Extension
Lancaster Research Station
7396 State Rd 35 & 81
Lancaster, WI 53813
Office Phone: 6087232580
Tom Kaspar

[email protected]
Plant Physiologist
USDA-Agricultural Research Service
2110 University Blvd
Ames, IA 50011
Office Phone: 5152948873
Beth Kallestad

[email protected]
Executive Director
Cannon River Watershed Partnership
400 Washington Street
Northfield, MN 55057
Office Phone: 5077863913
Jane Jewett

[email protected]
Research Fellow
Green Lands Blue Waters
411 Borlaug Hall
1991 Upper Buford Circle, Univ. of Minn.
St Paul, MN 55108
Office Phone: 2188452832
Matt Helmers

[email protected]
Associate Professor
Dept of Agronomy, 1401 Agronomy Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
Office Phone: 5152946717
Brad Heins

[email protected]
Assistant Professor, Organic Dairy Production
University of Minnesota
West Central Research and Outreach Center
State Highway 329, PO Box 471
Morris, MN 56267
Office Phone: 3205891711
Laura Paine

[email protected]
Grazing Broker
SW Badger RCD
1370 N Water St, Ste. 3
Platteville, WI 53818
Office Phone: 6087321202
Jason Fischbach

[email protected]
Agricultural Agent
University of Wisconsin Extension
County Administration Bldg
117 E 5th St
Washburn, WI 54891
Office Phone: 7153736104
Dean Current

[email protected]
Research Associate
University of Minnesota
Room 107 Green Hall
1530 Cleveland Ave N
St Paul, MN 55108
Office Phone: 6126244299
Cara Carper

[email protected]
SW Badger RCD
1370 N Water St, Ste. 3
Platteville, WI 53818
Office Phone: 6083487110
Sarah Carlson

[email protected]
Midwest Cover Crops Research Coordinator
Practical Farmers of Iowa
600 5th St, Suite 100
Ames, IA 50010
Office Phone: 5152325661
Eileen Bader

[email protected]
Freshwater Conservation Manager
The Nature Conservancy
505 5th Ave. Suite 930
Des Moines, IA 50309
Office Phone: 5158322916
Joel Gruver

[email protected]
Assistant Professor
Western Illinois University
Agronomy, Knoblauch Hall 302
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61445
Office Phone: 3092981215
Matt Liebman

[email protected]
Dept of Agronomy, 1401 Agronomy Hall
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
Office Phone: 5152947486
Diomy Zamora

[email protected]
Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension
Room 209D Green Hall
1530 Cleveland Ave N
St Paul, MN 55108
Office Phone: 6126269272
Terry VanDerPol

[email protected]
Program Director
821 E 35th Street, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Office Phone: 3202692105
Mark Shepard

[email protected]
Forest Agricultural Enterprises
P.O. Box 24
Viola, WI 54664
Office Phone: 6127580216
Joe Sellers

[email protected]
Beef Specialist
Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
48293 Hy Vee Road
Chariton, IA 50049
Office Phone: 6412031270
Matt Ruark

[email protected]
Assistant Professor
University of Wisconsin
Dept of Soil Science
1525 Observatory Dr. 53706
Madison, WI 53706
Office Phone: 6082632889