The Operational Tillage Information System (OpTIS) has been developed by Applied GeoSolutions (AGS) and the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) as a method for the automated use of remote sensing (satellite-based) data to monitor conservation practices in agricultural systems, including various forms of reduced tillage and the planting of winter cover crops. While the OpTIS calculations are performed and validated at the farm-field scale, the privacy of individual producers is fully protected by distributing only spatially-aggregated results – at the county and watershed (8-digit HUC) scale.
Cover crops offer a wide range of benefits to farmers, from erosion control to soil building to capturing nutrients and holding them in the root zone over the winter. As interest in cover crops continues to grow, it’s important to understand the trends, opportunities and challenges surrounding these important tools. Insight from farmers who use cover crops—or from those who haven’t yet made the move—is vital for fellow farmers, as well as for crop advisors, conservation specialists and policymakers.
CTIC recently began a new phase of a project funded by Iowa’s Department of Ag and Land Stewardship. In collaboration with Practical Farmers of Iowa and The Nature Conservancy, CTIC is leading development of a program that will train and incentivize retail agronomists to become advocates for conservation systems build around cover cropping. Rollout of the program is anticipated in the winter of 2019 and the project’s target area has been selected to leverage ongoing privately-funded supply chain sustainability initiatives.
Bee Integrated Demonstration Project: Pragmatic Beekeeping, Forage, & Farming Practices - BEE Integrated
CTIC has partnered with the Honey Bee Health Coalition on its Bee Integrated Demonstration Project. This project brings together beekeepers and producers to show how a suite of best practices can be implemented together in agricultural landscapes to support honey bee health. This innovative strategy provides a blueprint for supporting pollinator health across North America.