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.