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University of Minnesota Extension

Cover Crop Academy

Do you work with farmers who want to use cover crops but are struggling to incorporate them into Minnesota’s short growing season? Are you striving to help producers build soil health systems that are agronomic and economic successes?

Learn how to solve problems with cover crops at the Minnesota Cover Crop Academy, a hybrid, year-long, statewide course for crop advisors, consultants and ag advisors in Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices who work with cover crops.

We’ll kick off the academy with in-person meetings at the Research and Outreach Centers (ROCs) in Lamberton, Waseca and Crookston in June. You will visit cover crop research plots and learn about what is and isn’t working in your region.

Webinar meetings will dive deep into cover crop topics:

  • July – Developing a cover crop plan
  • Sept. – Killing weeds and cover crops: best practices and related issues
  • Nov. – Managing fertility in cover crop systems
  • Jan. – Avoiding cash crop issues in cover crops
  • March – Getting started with cover crops

To answer your questions about cover crop species, mixes and methods, you will design replicated research plots to be planted at each ROC in the fall. You will track growth throughout fall and spring, comparing across sites. At the last meeting of the course in May, you will measure final cover crop biomass, and discuss the next steps for implementing cover crops to benefit Minnesota’s environment and rural economies. You will build a strong toolkit for cover crop implementation and a peer network of cover crop advisors. You can earn CEUs at all meetings. 


Crop advisors, consultants and ag advisors in SWCD and NRCS offices who work with cover crops.


The cost for this program is $75, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors.

No refunds will be issued after registration closes on June 10. Cancellations before the close of registration will be refunded 50% of the course cost.

Scholarships are available. Contact Anna Cates at catesa@umn.edu for more information.


Registration is limited and closes June 10. Once registered, please follow the link in your confirmation email to the Canvas course materials.


2024-25 Schedule

The Cover Crop Academy will include both in-person and online meetings. For the in-person meetings, you should plan to attend the nearest location.

In-person meetings

You will meet instructors, other participants, and your team members at the in-person Cover Crop Academy kick-off meeting and field day in June.  Choose one location when you register.

  • June 18, 2024: Southern Research and Outreach Center, Waseca
  • June 20, 2024: Northwest Research and Outreach Center, Crookston
  • June 27, 2024: Southwest Research and Outreach Center, Lamberton
  • May 2025: TBD, at each center listed above

Online meetings

A series of five online meetings will cover essentials, giving you the confidence to plan your own research plots with a local team. All meetings will be held on Zoom from 10 a.m. to noon. Instructors will include farmers, consultants and university experts.

  • July 9, 2024: Developing a cover crop plan
    • Cover crop species selection, seeding methods and rates.
    • Regional teams will decide on research treatments.
  • September 10, 2024: Weed control and cover crops 
    • Herbicide residuals/carryover.
    • Cover crop termination timing.
  • November 19, 2024: Managing soil fertility in cover crop systems 
    • Nitrogen management: Starters, N application rates, and N credits and tie-up.
    • Manure applications in cover crops.
    • Reduced tillage systems.
  • January 14, 2025: Avoiding cash crop issues after cover crops
    • Planter specs and modifications.
    • Insect pest issues.
    • Farmer panel on what to expect in the spring.
  • March 11, 2025: Where’s the easy button? Getting started with cover crops
    • Easy entry points in the crop rotation.
    • Economics of cover crops.
    • Forage production and quality goals with cover crops.


We will apply for CEUs for Certified Crop Advisors primarily in the soil water, nutrient management and pest management categories.


We wish to thank the Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service, General Mills, and the Minnesota Office of Soil Health for their support of this program.

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