Wisconsin Cover Crops Research and Outreach Project
The Wisconsin Cover Crops Research and Outreach Project (CCROP) is a collaborative research and outreach effort on the efficacy of cover crops on Upper Midwest dairy, livestock, grain, and vegetable farms. Our multi-institutional project team of university and community partners brings years of combined expertise in on-farm cover crops research, data modeling, agricultural policy, and farmer education and outreach in the Upper Midwest. CIAS is involved in multiple CCROP initiatives including:
Cover Crop Farmer Citizen Science Research
Cover Crop Farmer Citizen Science Research: We have launched a second year of working with farmers to learn more about how to support growers interested in cover cropping and to augment our long-term cover crop database.
CCROP Gallery: Browse images of cover crops taken by our colleagues and researchers.
Compass tools: Each tool includes cover crops information tailored for the target cropping system. Veggie Compass is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet in which growers enter their expenses and sales information, and then allocate detailed expenses, including production labor hours, to each crop. The spreadsheet uses this data to calculate each crop’s cost of production per pound (or other unit), net profit by market channel, and gross margin by market channel.
Wisconsin Cover Crop & Conservation Conversations webinar series (March, April 2021)
The Cover Crops Research and Outreach Program (CCROP) along with its partners at the Michael Fields Institute, Dairy Forage Research Center, and UW hosted a series of three webinars, “Cover Crop and Conservation Conversations.” Each event featured 5-7 lightning talks, the first centered on farmer-initiated conservation projects, the second one on conservation agency outreach efforts, and the third dedicated to researcher updates.
Agroecology 702, Teaching the Multifunctionality of Agriculture
CIAS scientist Dr. Sarah Lloyd developed and taught the Spring 2021 Agroecology 702 course – The Multifunctionality of Agriculture. The class broke new ground in offering a suite of research methods, facilitation approaches, and process design skills that can support a new generation of researchers, professional technicians, and administrators working to advance more sustainable agriculture, including the aims of CCROP.
Dairy Supply Management Modeling
Cover crops, especially pasture, may provide a valuable alternative feed source for livestock. In 2020 CCROP funded participatory economic analysis at The University of Wisconsin Center for Dairy Profitability in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics. Mark Stephenson and Chuck Nicholson have worked with dairy economists globally to develop a way to model dairy economics. CIAS convened a group of dairy farmers and farm organization representatives to work collaboratively with Stephenson and Nicholson to build out the dairy pricing model based on farmer and organizational interests. CCROP funding supported participatory modeling sessions to better understand ways in which dairy price policy will impact farmers and the farm economy. Stephenson and Nicholson are developing a new farm type for their modeling based on grazing. This farm type will support economic modeling to show how different dairy market policies affect Wisconsin dairy farmers, including those with pasture and cover crops. In addition, to make this application more accessible to individual farmers, Nicholson is working with colleagues in Norway to create an easy-to-use interface for the model. We hope to have the app ready for beta testing at the World Dairy Expo in October 2021. Check for updates at the project page.
CIAS Cover Crop Publications
- Cover Crops on the Intensive Market Farm
- Living Mulch Suppresses Weeds and Yields in Organic Vegetable Plots (CIAS Research Brief #100)
- Fall-Sown Cover Crops and Weed Suppression in Organic Small-Scale Vegetable Production (CIAS Research Brief #99)
- Cover Crops Case Studies: Gary Sommers Farm
- Cover Crops Case Studies: JenEhr Family Farm