Resiliency From the Ground Up: How Diverse Cover Cropping Can Profit Your Farm and Community
A webinar with Keith Berns and Didi Pershouse on Thursday, May 7, 2020, at 11 AM ESTWatch the Webinar On-Demand
This webinar occurred on May 7, 2020, and is now available on demand.
After signing up for this webinar, you will be taken to the curriculum, where you will see the Zoom link for you to register and watch the webinar.
Join Keith Berns and Didi Pershouse, two respected voices in the Soil Health movement, to learn why diverse cover cropping is key to resilient communities--both above and below ground.
What makes a landscape resilient to flooding and drought? How do we address the extinction of so many bird, insect, and animal species at once? Why are researchers finding that a mixture of plants often performs better than a monoculture of the best performing plant in the mix?
The many beneficial outcomes from diverse cover cropping defy “common sense” and run contrary to how most of us were taught to farm (though Nature has been trying to tell us this for millenia!) The secret lies in each plant species having unique liquid carbon root exudates that provide a balanced diet of sugar, energy, proteins, and nutrients to the soil microbial population--allowing the soil’s functional microbiome to increase and diversify dramatically--with benefits right up the food chain.
Plants that are surrounded by diverse, abundant microbial communities are more drought-tolerant, and are better supplied with plant nutrients, making the plants (and those who eat them) more resistant to disease. All this microbial activity also improves soil structure, which improves the function of the whole watershed/catchment. Plant diversity also reduces insect pressure on plants, by attracting beneficial insects and birds, keeping the circle of life going.
Diversity is a powerful force for people as well. Human communities benefit greatly from a diverse agricultural landscape, and from diversity in our food, farmers and friendships. Here’s a chance to diversify your education by joining us for this interactive webinar!
Even if you are not a farmer, or are relatively new to the concept of diverse cover-cropping, you are welcome to attend, and will learn a lot about food, health, and the many benefits of a healthy functional landscape.
This webinar is offered for free, but we encourage people to donate towards the work of the Land & Leadership Initiative to make more of these offerings possible.
About the instructors:
Keith Berns combines over 20 years of no-till farming with 10 years of teaching Agriculture and Computers. In addition to no-tilling 2,500 acres of irrigated and dryland corn, soybeans, rye, triticale, peas, sunflowers, and buckwheat in South Central Nebraska, he also co-owns and operates Green Cover Seed, one of the major cover crop seed educators and providers in the United States. Through Green Cover Seed, Keith has experimented with over 100 different cover crop types, and hundreds of mixes, planted into various situations and has learned a great deal about cover crop growth, nitrogen fixation, moisture usage, and grazing utilization of cover crops. Keith was honored by the White House as a 2016 Champion of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture. Keith also developed the SmartMix CalculatorTM one of the most widely used cover-crop selection tools on the internet. Keith has a Masters Degree in Agricultural Education from the University of Nebraska and teaches on cover crops and soil health more than 30 times per year to various groups and audiences. Keith was also recently appointed by Nebraska Governor Pete Rickets to be the chairman of the Nebraska Healthy Soils Task Force.
Didi Pershouse is the author of The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function. She is a lead author for the "Future Directions" chapter of the UN-FAO Technical Manual on Soil Organic Carbon Management, and a contributing author for Health in the Anthropocene.
Pershouse is a skilled facilitator, who brings conservatives and liberals together into effective working groups with common goals: improving soil health, public health, water security, and regional resilience through simple changes in land management. Both online and in-person, her participatory workshops engage farmers and ranchers, policy makers, investors, and scientists in systems thinking and deep listening, to allow for emergent strategies. She was one of five speakers at the United Nations-FAO World Soil Day in 2017.
She is the founder of the Land and Leadership Initiative and the Center for Sustainable Medicine, and a co-founder of Regenerate Earth and the "Can we Rehydrate California?" Initiative. She is currently working on projects with the UN-FAO Farmer Field School program; the Climate Resilient Zero Budget Natural Farming Initiative in Andhra Pradesh, India; and the No Regrets Initiative. She is a member of the Vermont State appointed Payment For Ecosystem Services and Soil Health Working Group and is on the board of directors of the Soil Carbon Coalition and the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition.
You can learn more about her work at www.didipershouse.com