This training series provides an introduction to the knowledge, skills, and abilities to plan, design, and install Conservation Cover (CPS327). Additional training may be needed.

Practice Specific


Training Type
Online Learning

United States


1. Knowledge of State's Crops and Cropping Systems

Title Description
Soybean Variety Selection What criteria should you use when selecting a soybean variety? How do the economics pencil out for different soybean maturities in your area? What disease traits should you be on the lookout for? Learn more through a discussion of these questions and trial results with Dr. Seth Naeve, Extension soybean agronomist and Dr. Dean Malvick, Extension plant pathologist.
Corn Hybrid Selection What criteria should you used when selecting a corn hybrid? How do hybrid maturities affect your bottom line? What about hybrid selection and disease resistance?  Watch the recording for answers to these questions and hybrid trial results with Dr. Jeff Coulter, Extension corn agronomist, Tom Hoverstad, Researcher from Southern Research and Outreach Center and Dr. Dean Malvick, Extension plant pathologist.
Soybean crop management in Wisconsin (soybeans, part 1/3) (Time: 12:35) This video discusses components contributing to yield in soybeans including varietal selection, regional climate and fertilization.
Vegetative Growth Stages of Soybeans (soybeans 2/3) (Time: 16:39) This video focuses on the early season growth and development of soybeans
R Stages, Soybean Management in Wisconsin (soybeans 3/3) (Time: 17:42)  This video focuses on the reproductive stages of growth and development of soybeans.
Forages This website provides information on variety selection, growing, harvest and storage, planting and pest management for forages in Minnesota.
Sugarbeets This website provides information on  growing sugarbeets and pest management for sugarbeets Minnesota.
Small Grains This website provides information on crop and variety selection, growing, harvest and storage, planting and pest management for small grains in Minnesota.
Corn yield in Wisconsin and the US (Corn, part 1/3) (Time:13:41) Dr. Joe Lauer's presentation about "Corn Growth, Development, and Physiology". This part (1 of 3) focuses on an overview of corn yield in Wisconsin and the US.
Corn growth and development staging systems (Corn, part 2/3) (Time 41:01) Dr. Joe Lauer's presentation about "Corn Growth, Development, and Physiology". This part (2 of 3) focuses on systems used to label stages of corn plant development in Wisconsin and the US.
Yield components of corn (corn, part 3/3) (Time 24:02)  Dr. Joe Lauer's presentation about "Corn Growth, Development, and Physiology". This part (3 of 3) focuses on the components that contribute to yield in corn.


2. Knowledge of Soil Health and Management

Title Description
It's All About Carbon: Building a Thriving Soil Biological Community A supplemental video for the 2021 Soil Health and Sustainability. Dennis Chessman of NRCS gives a presentation on Soil Carbon at the 2018 National No-Tillage Conference.
Mitigating Climate Change Through the Soil Carbon Sponge Discovery Farms Programs in Wisconsin and Minnesota are excited to bring to you a virtual conference series this winter. Join us as we cover topics like water quality, soil health, climate change, and more!
MN NRCS Soil Health Training Resources (Time will vary) This is a set of 30+ soil health related training resources that is maintained by MN NRCS.
Understanding Soil Quality Impacts on Soil Functions and Other Resource Concerns (Time: 1:18) Participants learn about nutrient management and healthy soils, and the resulting effects on water quality through a study of mechanisms for increasing soil organic matter, providing habitat for soil microorganisms, and improving soil quality.
Unlock the Secrets in the Soil A series of 41 videos, mostly under five minutes each that discuss various soil health topics and applications of soil health principles.
Core NRCS Conservation Practices for Enhancing Soil Health (Time: 1:10) This webinar focuses on how several core NRCS conservation practices can be used by farmers to improve soil health, linking them to the four soil health planning principles, i.e. minimizing disturbance, maximizing diversity, keeping a living root growing, and maintaining residue cover.
Soil Health (Time: 57:21)  In this session, Dr. Jessica Gutknecht discusses soil health. When you think about the soil beneath your feet, or beneath your tractor, what does it mean for it to be healthy? What does it take for it to be healthy, and what are the results of those efforts? In this talk, we will explore the world below with a brief introduction to soils, how soil structure is built into a healthy soil, and some management options for building a healthy soil. We will also discuss the win-win of soil health for sustainable management and for adaptation to increasingly variable Minnesota weather and climate.
Living Soil Film (Time 1:00:22) Our soils support 95 percent of all food production, and by 2060, our soils will be asked to give us as much food as we have consumed in the last 500 years. They filter our water. They are one of our most cost-effective reservoirs for sequestering carbon. They are our foundation for biodiversity. And they are vibrantly alive, teeming with 10,000 pounds of biological life in every acre. Yet in the last 150 years, we’ve lost half of the basic building block that makes soil productive. The societal and environmental costs of soil loss and degradation in the United States alone are now estimated to be as high as $85 billion every single year. Like any relationship, our living soil needs our tenderness. It’s time we changed everything we thought we knew about soil.


3. Ability to use Current Wind and Water Erosion Prediction Tools


4. Knowledge of Tillage Systems used in the State

Title Description
Farming Implements in Action: Impacts on the Soil, Erosion Potential of Tillage Systems, and Economics This webinar goes into the details of the five soil disturbing processes modeled in RUSLE2 (inversion, mixing, mixing with some inversion, lifting/fracturing, and compression). A video of a tillage implement in action for each of the processes is shown and discussed. The effects of the tillage types are demonstrated and discussed in a comparison between a conventional, reduced-till, and no-till corn/soybean rotation. Finally, the webinar ends with a very brief discussion of the economic factors that one should consider in making the move from a conventional to reduced-till or no-till system.

This webinar was offered on-demand only to accommodate the use of videos. The videos are provided separately below for anyone having issues with the recording of this webinar.
Tillage Implements A review of tools for estimating erosion, primary and secondary tillage equipment, and the effects of the equipment on erosion calculations, SCI and STIR.
Tillage Implements This course will review tillage calculation tools, primary tillage implements, and secondary tillage implements used in a corn/soybean setting.


5. Knowledge of Wildlife Management and Adaptive Plant Species

Coming soon.


Additional KSAs Based on Practice Phases

1. Inventory and Evaluation (I&E) planning

  • Ability to use applicable wildlife habitat evaluation guides

2. Design and development of conservation practice requirements

  • *Knowledge of site preparation methods common for geographic region
  • Knowledge of plant species best suited for geographic region
  • Knowledge of planting dates for plant species used
  • *Ability to formulate fertilizer recommendations
  • Knowledge of operation and maintenance for vegetative establishment

3. Installation oversight and certification

*Coming soon - Agronomy Tech Note #31 training.

Title Description
Basics of Plant Identification for Conservation Planning This course introduces you to plant identification and its role in the conservation planning process. You will learn basics of plant identification, such as how to identify plant parts and how to use different types of plant keys. You’ll also learn about collecting and preserving plant samples and about electronic and other resources that can help with plant identification. You’ll lastly learn how plant identification is used within specific phases of the Nine Steps of Conservation Planning.
Introduction to Plant Identification (Time: 1:07:49)   Plants are of central importance to natural resource conservation. Thus, the ability to identify species or species groups is an essential skill for USDA NRCS field staffs. The goal of this webinar is to provide participants with a basic understanding of plant ecology and a framework for determining the identity of plants. Participants will learn about the major groups of plants, traits that they should be looking for to distinguish plant groups, when to look for distinguishing traits, how to collect and preserve plant specimens, resources available to determine plant identification, operation of a simple plant key, and limits on the precision of plant identification. This webinar will also identify additional resources/training available to further develop skills.
Tech Talk: Native Plant ID Karin Jokela, Xerces Society Partner Biologist, and Jeff Kalin, NRCS State Wildlife Biologist, cover native plant identification for the most commonly used grass and wildflower species in pollinator conservation mixes, as well as problematic weedy species that often show up during the establishment phase. Species will be presented as seedlings, mature plants, and as seed heads. Karin and Jeff will also share strategies and tools to help you carry on learning plant identification skills until you feel proficient.
Tech Talk: Native Plant Communities Megan Benage and Becky Marty from the DNR present on Native Plant Communities. This workshop session covers a tour of the Native Plant Communities Field Guides including key features, how to key things out and pitfalls to using the guide and applying its information. The session also includes plant characteristics and how to key things out for Plant ID. In addition, you will find out how you can use the information contained in the Native Plant Community guidebooks in your job with prairie and forest examples.