cows in field

Cocktail Cover Cropping

A cropping strategy that aspires to the diversity and productivity of native prairie called Cocktail Cover Cropping has taken root in Burleigh County, North Dakota and is spreading through US production agriculture.

The outcomes that are spurring uptake include increased soil health, elimination of erosion, reduced nutrient loss to leaching, reduced inputs, increased production and profit, efficient use of precipitation, drought resistance, impressive livestock performance when the crops are (lightly) grazed and more.

The farmer-graziers, NRCS personnel and scientists who have been leading the cocktail charge are doing a fine job of experimenting, unraveling the mysteries of the strategy, and translating their insights into practical lessons.

Abe Collins believes that the advantages of cocktail cover cropping could address some of the needs of Northeastern agriculture and watershed health and give us a powerful new set of tools for success.

USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Sound and Sensible: Producers need
to have input

The NOP has recently launched the Sound and Sensible program to “identify and remove barriers to certification, streamline the certification process, focus enforcement, and work with farmers and processors to correct small issues before they become larger ones. The overall goal of this new initiative is to make organic certification accessible, attainable, and affordable for all operations.” Certifiers through their organization, the Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA), have been meeting and have drawn up recommendations and reports and it is important for all producers to comment on this program either directly to the NOP or -if you fear repercussion from certifiers - to NODPA so we can represent producers’ concerns and challenges. NODPA has in the past suggested ways in which certification can be streamlined which include: one common form used by all certifiers; educated and competent inspectors; one list of accepted products that can be used in organic production and consistent interpretations of the standards by all certifiers. We must not lose the gold standard approach to third party audited certification from field to table, nor have a process that is not robust and detailed. ‘Sound and Sensible’ cannot mean ‘easy and lax’ but we should not dismiss common sense interpretations of regulations by qualified inspectors based on high quality organic production methods. Many producers are tired of being treated suspiciously as likely 'cheaters' by organic certifiers. The whole organic certification process, with mountains of repetitious, invasive and semi-insulting paperwork, year-long harassment, and the stress of clue-less demands by non-farmers in the certification office, can be extremely annoying. An inspection of an organic dairy should not be as short as two hours nor as long as ten and an inspector needs to spend ample time in the field not just riding the property in the farm pick-up.