This training series provides an introduction to the knowledge, skills, and abilities to plan, design, and install Cover Crops (CPS340). 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.
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.
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.


2.  Knowledge of Soil Health and Management

Title Description
Core Competency: Soil Health Basics This course will provide an introduction to soil health, dynamic soil properties, and sustainability principles to guide participants with recommendations for land management.
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.
Winter Soil Health Virtual Series, Webinar 2 The Minnesota Soil Health Coalition produced a series of webinars in January and February of 2021.  These five webinars are:  Webinar 1: Soil Health Virtual Series: Matt Tiffany + Brian Pfarr  Webinar 2: Cover Crop Mixes with Tomm Cotter and TJ Kartes  Webinar 3:  Livestock Integration with Tom Cotter and Kent Solberg;  Webinar 4:  Small Grains with Andy Linder and Jochum Wiersma;  Interseeding Covers with Ed McNamara,  TJ Kartes, Scott Haase, Matt Alford and Jerry Ackerman
Tech Talk Replay: Equipment Modifications for Cover Crops Tech Talk Replay from August 24 at 9:00 am. NRCS State Soil Health Specialist Kristin Brennan hosts a farmer panel including Brady Wulf of Starbuck,  Ryan Hough of Barnesville, and David Miller of Red Lake to discuss equipment modifications they have made to facilitate the integration of a soil health system into their farming operations.
Tech Talk Replay: Evaluating Herbicide Plans in a Soil Health System Tech Talk Replay from August 10, 2020. Liz Stahl, UMN Extension, reviews the latest research and information regarding the impacts of weed management decisions on the potential for successful establishment of cover crops, cover crop end uses, and the tradeoffs we can expect in our weed management program. Following the presentation is a facilitated discussion with crop advisors.
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!


3.  Ability to Use Wind and Water Erosion Prediction Tools

Title Description
Using RUSLE2 to Evaluate Soil Health Planning Principles Nearly all NRCS field offices and many conservation partners use RUSLE2 for conservation planning. This webinar will provide participants a better understanding of the NRCS soil health planning process and how adjustments made within RUSLE2 directly relate to implementing a Soil Health Management System. The link between NRCS’ four soil health planning principles (minimize disturbance, maximize diversity, keep a living root growing, provide soil cover) and the Soil Tillage Intensity Rating, Soil Conditioning Index, tillage operations, vegetation, growth curves, residue type, climate impacts, and other data used in RUSLE2 will be explored. RUSLE2 worksheets and graphs to compare systems and soil health outcomes will also be presented. Understanding RUSLE2 management inputs and how they relate to soil health and reduce erosion will better prepare conservation planners to assist farmers seeking NRCS help with erosion control and applying a Soil Health Management System.


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 This course will review tillage calculation tools, primary tillage implements, and secondary tillage implements used in a corn/soybean setting.
Nutrient and Pest Management Equipment This short course looks at application equipment you may see in corn and soybean producing areas.
Harvesting Equipment This short course looks at harvesting equipment you may see in corn and soybean producing areas.
Seeding and Planting Equipment This course will review seeding and planting equipment used in a corn/soybean setting.


5.  Knowledge of Approved Planting Dates, Times and Methods of Termination for Cover Crops

Title Description
Tech Talk Replay: Cover Crop Tech Talk replay from April 13, 2020. Laurie Svien reviews PS340 Cover Crop, Agronomy Tech Note 33, online cover crop resources, and completing the Implementation Requirements worksheet.


6. Other Training Opportunities

Title Description
Sustainable Crop Rotations with Cover Crops Cover crops offer many benefits for agriculture that include erosion control; reduced compaction and nutrient leaching; increased water infiltration; improved soil biodiversity; weed control and disease suppression; increased carbon sequestration and maximum nutrient recycling; improved air, soil, and water quality; and wildlife enhancement. Every cover crop species has its own niche and attributes for agricultural production. A wrong combination of cover crops may exert negative attributes, so a thorough understanding of cover crops selection and management is needed to minimize negative outcomes.
Managing Cover Crops Profitably Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Third Edition, was published in 2007 by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program under cooperative agreements with the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, the University of Maryland and the University of Vermont.
Cover Crops: Matching your management strategies and goals There are a number of important considerations when deciding which cover crops fit best with your operation. In this webinar, we discuss U of MN research to help match cover crop management strategies with your goals. Research results on potential benefits and limitations will be highlighted, with a particular emphasis on impacts on cash crop yield and nutrient management.
P-Workshop:  Managing Phosphorus in Conservation Cropping Systems Join the Illinois Sustainable Ag Partnership, American Farmland Trust, and the Upper Macoupin Creek Watershed Partnership for an informative webinar focused on managing phosphorus in conservation cropping systems. Presentations will highlight current research and management tips for farmers and their advisors on best management practices that reduce non-point source phosphorus loading.
• Dr. Heidi M. Peterson is Vice President of Agricultural Research and Conservation at the Sand County Foundation where she leads the Foundation’s agricultural conservation team and sets its strategic direction in research, and farmer and rancher engagement. Dr. Peterson will summarize the 4R’s for phosphorus.
• Dr. Fernandez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Fernandez will discuss phosphorus application and placement techniques.
Dr. Nathan Nelson is an Associate Professor of Agronomy at Kansas State, where he focuses primarily on finding ways to increase the efficiency of phosphorus applications in agriculture. Dr. Nathan Nelson will examine phosphorus management and runoff with cover crops.
Tech Talk Replay: Fertilization in a Soil Health System Tech Talk Replay from August 24 at 1:00. Dr. Daniel Kaiser (UMN Extension) and Dorian Gatchel discuss fertilizer considerations in soil health systems.
Cover Crop Strategies Podcasts Cover Crop Strategies offers a series of Podcasts related to Cover Crops and Soil Health.  Topics include Cover Crop Management Tips, Choosing Cover Crop Goals First, Grazing Systems Need Soil Health Improvement Too,  Combining Cover Crops and Not-Till Organic among other topics.  Check it out!
Side Dressing Cover Crops into Corn with Rob Olson and Daughters (Time: 13 mins, 34 secs) Producer Rob Olson and daughters Nicole and Kari demonstrate inter-seeding cover crops into corn on their farm in Clay County, MN.
High Clearance Cover Crop seeder with Andy Linder (Time: 9 mins, 35 secs) Producer Andy Linder of Faribault MN demonstrates how he seeds cover crops into soybeans and corn using his revamped high clearance Hagie seeder. He discusses the methods, benefits, and potential pitfalls of using this method of seeding cover crops.
Cattle Grazing on Cover Crops in Faribault County, MN (Time: 10 mins, 45 secs) Producer Andy Linder discusses the methods and benefits of grazing steers on Cover Crops.
Demonstration of WEPP in more detail (Time: 1:00:27)  This session includes cover crops, kill crop, mulch/manure additions, weed growth, irrigation, etc.


Regional Cover Crop Scenarios to learn and practice Cover Crop design may be available from your ARC or Regional Training Conservationist.