UACES Facebook Jonesboro conference to focus on cover crops, soil health and water management
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Jonesboro conference to focus on cover crops, soil health and water management

By the U of A System Division of Agriculture
Dec. 9, 2016

Fast Facts:

  • Two-day conference, Dec. 13-14
  • Use of cover crops a powerful tool to promote soil health & weed management 

(590 words) 

LITTLE ROCK — Three of the most important aspects of modern farming will be the focus of the upcoming Southern Agricultural Cover Crops, Soil Health and Water Management Conference, scheduled for Dec. 13-14 in Jonesboro. 

The conference, to be held at the Arkansas State University Convocation Center in Jonesboro, will be co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts (AACD). The conference is designed to help farmers learn how to successfully adopt a cover crop management system, improve soil health and water management on their operations.

The conference is designed to provide a forum for farmers to exchange information, discuss opportunities for collaboration, and learn about new and successful practices related to cover crops, soil and water management. Case study presentations will identify and discuss strengths and pitfalls of real applications.

The promotion of cover crops as a strategy for both soil conservation and weed management has been a priority for University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture researchers and agronomists for some time. Although an increasing number of growers throughout the state have begun to adopt the strategy, Arkansas still lags behind some other agricultural states because the window of opportunity to plant and then remove cover crops between harvest and spring planting is somewhat limited.

Specific conference sessions will include

  • soil management
  • irrigation water management
  • pest management
  • growing cover crops to graze cattle on cropland
  • cover crop management
  • climate change
  • no-till farming
  • using gypsum
  • the economics of soil health. 

Guest speakers include NRCS and USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists, farmers, crop consultants, and university researchers who have extensive experience with various focal points of the conference. Featured speaker Gabe Brown will make a presentation on soil health.

Cover crops enhance soil health, increase soil water retention and keep nutrients in the fields.  Although cover crops can be effective under conventional tillage, they also improve soil health and ease the transition to continuous no‐till. 

“Southern farmers cannot simply rely on the tried and proven management techniques that the Midwest employs to manage cover crops and improve soil health,” said John Lee, USDA NRCS state agronomist in Arkansas. “Conditions in the South are different, and we need to plan to improve soil health according to southern agricultural farming practices and conditions farmers are facing here in the South.” 

Part of the second day of the conference will focus on methods to improve water management.  Irrigation water management saves money while reducing water use, improving water and air quality, and saving energy. 

“Irrigation water management just makes good dollars and sense,” said Walt Delp, USDA NRCS state conservation engineer. “Every drop of water that does not runoff is water that is available for crop use and does not have to be pumped.”

One emerging field for conservation is selling carbon credits on the environmental market.  Several speakers will talk about how to use less water for rice production which in turn will produce fewer greenhouse gases. 

Certified crop advisors can earn continuing education units for attending training at the conference. 

The cost to attend both days of the conference is $50 for Cooperative Extension Service agents and other government employees, and $100 for private citizens. Registration is not required, although organizers may not be able to provide lunch for attendees who do not register ahead of time.

For more information or to register for the Southern Agricultural Cover Crops, Soil Health and Water Management Conference, contact Debbie Moreland, AACD program administrator, at (501) 682-2915.  Registration packages are also available at


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.  If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your (insert appropriate office) as soon as possible.  Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. 

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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