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


2023 Cover Crop Webinar Series

Title Description
Webinar 1 Session 1 discusses cover crop strategies, resource concerns that can be treated with cover crops, benefits of cover crops and how cover crops fit into MN cropping systems.
Webinar 2 Session 2 covers the practice standard, Implementation Requirements worksheet, Agronomy Technical Note 33 and Cover Crop Identification.
Webinar 3 Session 3 covers seed mix design, the seed calculator, calculating PLS and bulk seed as well as MN seed tag law.
Webinar 4 Session 4 covers the topics of cover crop seeding and termination methods as well as economics of cover crops.


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!
Soil Health Dos and Don'ts Join us for this webinar during which soil health techniques such as cover crops, crop rotations, pest management, nutrient management, cash crop establishment, and water management will be discussed.

Participants will be able to ask questions for a round table on several soil health topics. These include:
• Cover Crop selection, seeding, termination and benefits
• Benefits to soil health by using crop rotations and crop rotations to avoid.
• Pest Management techniques including scouting and monitoring of pests, beneficial insects, pesticide carry-over and breaking the cycle of non-essential pesticide use.
• The 4-Rs in soil health system concerning nutrient management techniques.
• Cash crop establishment techniques in cover crop systems. Discuss benefits of planting green or planting after chemical termination.
• Benefits of soil health systems on water management. Specifically reductions in irrigation amounts and management techniques.
Nobel Conference 54 - Living Soil: A Universe Underfoot (2018) Gustavus Adlophus College (St. Peter, MN) hosted the 54th Nobel Conference on the Living Soil: A Universe Underfoot in 2018. This conference invited participants to consider the vast diversity and complexity of soil, and to ponder the challenges we face in protecting this most fundamental resource. Playlist includes all of the speaker presentations and panel discussions held during the two day conference.


3.  Ability to Use Wind and Water Erosion Prediction Tools

Title Description
Erosion 101 This training module focuses on the types of erosion and the resource concerns associated with erosion.  It orients participants to the types and processes of soil erosion to prepare them to utilize the current soil erosion models - RUSLE2 and WEPS.   
Water Erosion Prediction with RUSLE2 This course provides an overview of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE), and instructions on how to use the RUSLE2 model to estimate sheet and rill erosion.
Wind Erosion Prediction with WEPS This course provides an overview of the Wind Erosion Prediction System (WEPS), and instructions on how to use the WEPS model to estimate wind erosion.
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.
Demonstration of WEPP in more detail (Time: 1:00:27)  This session includes cover crops, kill crop, mulch/manure additions, weed growth, irrigation, etc.


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 Adaptive Species of Cover Crops for Planned Purposes in the State


6.  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.


Other Training Opportunities

Title Description
Economics of Soil Health: Contributions of Reduced Tillage and Cover Cropping Weighing the costs and benefits of soil health management practices is a primary concern for producers considering the adoption of such practices. However, the economic information needed for making data-driven, science-based decisions is difficult to find. Recognizing that cropping and operating systems, climate, and soils vary, the Soil Health Institute has done extensive research to develop partial budgets to fill the knowledge gap on the economics of soil health systems. Using data from more than 100 corn and soybean production partial budgets from across the United States, this webinar will provide an in-depth analysis of how cover cropping affects expenditures and management practices in reduced tillage systems. It will also discuss details on cover crop seed mixes, planting, and termination strategies.
Cover Crops: Why grow a crop you don't sell? Cover crops are increasingly popular, but can they be profitable in the first year? And what's the true cost of cover crop adoption? In this webinar you'll learn some remarkable facts and figures from a farmer who conducted his own on-farm test comparing cover crop with no cover crop for corn and soybeans. Participants will learn about the transition to cover crops, an economics method for assessing the on-farm value of cover crops, and criteria for judging a case study.
Cover Crop Economics Decision Support Tool As cover crops gain attention and focus, questions are moving from agronomics to economics. This presentation centers on a spreadsheet-based partial budgeting tool that is available to help address some of the economic and financial questions that arise. This tool is designed to help producers, landowners, planners and others make informed decisions when considering making cover crops a part of their production systems.
Winter Soil Health Virtual Series 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
2021 Nitrogen: Minnesota’s Grand Challenge and Compelling Opportunity Conference Video presentations from the 7th Annual Nitrogen: Minnesota's Grand Challenge & Compelling Opportunity Conference February 9th, 2021:
ESN Use in Poorly Drained Soils
• Alternative Management Tool for Groundwater Protection
• Nitrogen Fertilization in Southeast MN
• Bioreactors, Wetlands and Other Nitrogen Mitigation Practices
• Cover Crops to Mitigate Nitrogen Losses to the Environment
• Nitrogen Management and Crop Yields Relative to Tillage and Tiling
• Proximal and Remote Sensing-based Precision Nitrogen Management
• Nitrogen Management in Irrigated Sands with Cover Crops
• Integrated Irrigation and Nitrogen Management for Crop Production
• Nitrogen Credits Following Sweet Corn and Cover Crop Influences
• Atmospheric N Deposition
• Ammonium Fixation in Soils and Nitrogen Rates
• Impacts of Nitrogen Fertilizers on Nitrogen Mineralization
• Corn Nitrogen Use from Soil vs Fertilizer in Minnesota
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.
Soil Health Pays A farm’s profitability depends on many factors – but reducing yield variability is a key component. Mitchell County farmer Wayne Fredericks and plant physiologist Jerry Hatfield will review the extensive on-farm research data they’ve collected on reducing yield variability. Their data shows that improving soil health through cover crops and other conservation practices can have a positive effect on total field yield.
On-Farm Research Explores Cover Crops, Manure, Nitrogen & Returns Woody Van Arkel and Cameron Ogilvie shared results of and experience with on-farm research at Woody’s farm. Research explored different cover crops in combination with manure applications and side-dressed nitrogen. Cover crops included cereal rye, red clover and multi-species blends. Learn how on-farm research like this can help you consider net returns and not solely bushels per acre.
Effective Cover Cropping - Maximizing Benefits, Minimizing Risk Bringing forward information and data from several years and data from assorted research locations, Dr. Gruver discusses both gains and hurdles in cover crops and soil health. Reducing Cost of Failure and Quickly Learning From Failure. “Fail Fast, Succeed Faster”

Dr. Joel Gruver, Professor of Soil Science at Western Illinois University brings new soil health discussion forward regarding reducing cost of failure and quickly learning from failure in cover crops; Precision Cover Cropping; Water Quality; presentation of data from several years and locations of research.
Using Legumes to Supply Crop Nitrogen While Also Reaping Benefits for Soil Health Join to learn how to reduce nitrogen need by incorporating legumes into your rotation. Using leguminous cover crops provides multiple below ground ecosystem services that support crop production, restore/maintain soil health and reduce undesirable environmental consequences. The first part of the presentation will focus on understanding soil ecological processes that enable leguminous cover crops to serve as a nitrogen source for subsequent cash crops. Followed by discussing how leguminous green manures alter nitrogen cycling compared to additions of mineral fertilizers. Then, digging deeper into the underlying soil ecology and look at how leguminous cover crops affect soil organic matter formation and improve soil health. Lastly, we will consider how plants acquire nitrogen from organic sources in soils. In the second half I will concentrate on management practices. To optimize legume-derived nitrogen supply, there are two main aspects of management to consider: 1) How can leguminous cover crops be managed to optimize symbiotic nitrogen fixation rates? and 2) Which management strategies are most effective for transitioning from mineral fertilizers to legume-derived nitrogen? I hope we can have some discussion about management challenges that farmers face when transitioning to legumes as nitrogen sources as well as practices that are working. 
Long-term Effect of Cover Crops on Soil Health Crop Yield Tune into this Digital Cafe to hear from Dr. Inderjot Chahal with the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Guelph. Dr. Chalal will discuss the long-term cover crop experiments established at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus. The presentation will focus specifically on the benefits and implications of cover crops on increasing soil health indicators and crop yield in the long-term.
2022 Wisconsin Cover Crops Conference - Planting Green Systematic approaches to establishing covers, planter setups, termination techniques, agronomic concerns when converting from conventional tillage system to cover crop establishment and planting green. This session discusses on-farm trials, new cover crops, and new research being conducted in 2022. Panel consists of two farmers from “Dodge County Farmers for Healthy Soil and Healthy Water,” UW Research Agronomist, and Lower Fox Demonstration Farms Manager. The panel provides valuable planning approaches to consider and lessons learned toensure success when planting green.
Speakers: Dale Macheel, Brendon Blank, John Gaska, Brent Petersen
2022 Wisconsin Cover Crops Conference - Adaptive Rye Management During this session, our panel of experienced farmers walks through how planting rye fits into their system and the importance of adaptive rye management the following spring. This session presents different scenarios and the panelists share their real-life experiences and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Speakers: Jason Cavadini, Derek Ducat, Rod Webb
2022 Wisconsin Cover Crops Conference - Creating Opportunities for In-Season Manure In Wisconsin, we’re fortunate to have manure as a natural fertilizer. A panel of farmers discuss their experiences (the how) on maximizing the benefits of manure through in-season applications. This session takes a deeper look into widening manure application windows by using various tools (crop rotation, cover crops, application equipment, etc.).
Speakers: Aaron Augustian, Jacob Brey, Jordan Crave
Best Management Practices for Drill- Interseeding Cover Crops into Corn Participants will learn how management practices and environmental conditions impact the performance of cover crops that are drill-interseeded into corn early in the growing season.

Participate in this training to learn how cover crop species selection, interseeding timing, corn management, herbicide selection and application timing impact performance of interseeded cover crops. Emphasis will be placed on how to adjust management practices based on conservation goals for interseeeding cover crops.


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


Updated: 10/10/2023