Cover Crop, Relay Cropping, and No-Till Workshop to be Held at Madison County Fairgrounds December 1 

AMES, Iowa—Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District, will host a cover crop workshop Thursday, December 1 from 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. at the Jackson Building on the Madison County Fairgrounds in Winterset. The free event is open to farmers and landowners and includes a complimentary meal.  

Cover crops offer many benefits to farmers and landowners including reduced soil erosion, weed suppression potential, reduced nitrogen and phosphorus loads entering water bodies, and increased organic matter in the soil. When paired with no-tillage additional benefits include increased water infiltration and reduced erosion during heavy rain events.  

With changes to recent Risk Management Agency federal crop insurance guidelines, interest is growing the area of relay cropping a winter cereal grain like rye or wheat with soybeans. Relay cropping is a system where a second crop is planted into an established crop before harvesting the first crop.  

Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to hear from a panel of local Madison County farmers: Dennis McLaughlin, Jon Peterson, and Randy Gamble. They are going to discuss their experiences with cover crops and no-till as well as answer any questions from an operator perspective.  

Ruth Blomquist, NRCS Soil Health Specialist, will discuss a few quick and easy ways to evaluate the benefits of soil health practices on your own. Alex Schaffer, Iowa Soybean Association Field Services Program Manager, will share relay cropping. Anna Golightly, Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District Conservation Assistant, will discuss cost share options.  

The workshop will be held at the Jackson Building on the Madison County Fairgrounds, 1146 West Summit St., Winterset, IA 50273.  

The event is free and open to farmers and landowners, though we require reservations to ensure adequate space and food. For reasonable accommodations and to RSVP please contact Alena Whitaker at 515-294-2473 or Attendees will be entered in a drawing for ISU Prairie Strips honey.  

Iowa Learning Farms field days and workshops are supported by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

Iowa Learning Farms field days and workshops are supported by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit

About Iowa Learning Farms 

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land StewardshipIowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable AgricultureUSDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural ResourcesEPA Section 319 Grant Program and GROWMARK, Inc.  

Related Links: 

Iowa NRCS Sets Oct. 7 Application Cutoff for Conservation Program Applications

Iowa farmers and private landowners interested in treating resource concerns on their lands have until Oct. 7 to be considered for priority funding for conservation programs administered through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Four of the most popular USDA conservation programs are included in this signup period:

  • Agricultural Conservation Easement Program-Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE)
  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)

NRCS accepts program applications on a continuous basis but sets application cutoff dates as program funding allows. Interested producers and landowners should submit applications to their local NRCS office by the Oct. 7 application cutoff to ensure they are considered for 2023 funding.

ACEP-WRE (Wetland Easements)
Through the ACEP-WRE, NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and tribal entities for protecting and restoring wetlands through the purchase of a wetland conservation easement. NRCS will enroll eligible land through permanent or 30-year easements.

Private landowners and tribal entities can contact their local NRCS office to find out if they have eligible wetlands on their property, how to complete the application form, or for information about required ownership documents.

Through CSP, NRCS helps agricultural producers build their operation while implementing conservation practices that help ensure its sustainability. The program provides many benefits including increased crop yields, decreased inputs, wildlife habitat improvements, and increased resilience to weather extremes. CSP is intended for working lands including cropland, pastureland, nonindustrial private forest land and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of a tribe.  


Through EQIP, NRCS provides conservation planning and financial assistance to implement conservation practices such as no-till, cover crops, terraces, grassed waterways, nutrient management, manure management facilities, and pasture management.

The Oct. 7 application signup cutoff includes EQIP initiatives, such as the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), Mississippi River Basin Health Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), Prairie Pothole Water Quality and Wildlife Program, Organic Initiative, High Tunnel Initiative, and On-Farm Energy Initiative.

Through RCPP, NRCS co-invests with partners to implement projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes tied to resource concerns.

For a complete list of Iowa RCPP project, visit:

To apply for NRCS conservation programs, contact your local NRCS office. For more information about conservation planning and programs to help treat natural resource issues on your land, visit