SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Community Land Trust organized a tour Thursday to inform local producers about the exposure Northeast Wyoming has been seeing as ranchers and farmers experiment with cover crops. 

Cover crops are planted to reduce erosion, improve overall soil health, suppress weeds, control weeds and pests, increase biodiversity and organic matter among other reasons that benefits both agriculture and wildlife. Cover crops have been shown to increase crop yields through resiliency of both extremes of the rain gage.

The tour included an experiment conducted by Tylor Jones and Brian Mealor from the University of Wyoming. After departing from the first stop, Dr. Caitlyn Youngquist, a University of Wyoming extension educator, conducted a Wyoming lecture at the front of the school bus about soil health while traveling to Arvada. The tour then stopped at Mike Odegard’s ranch where he began experimenting with cover crops in 2012 and then began practicing no-till farming in 2008.

The bus then traveled to Leiter where Kellen Leiter showed the progress his family has made since they implemented pasture renovation tools and restoration of production and fertility on long idle cropland.

To conclude the day, Kate Vogel, owner of North 40 Ag, spoke about her experience with helping producers figure out if cover crops are a good fit for their operations.

“We’ve been looking for a topic where there was a large area of interest to hold a tour,” Brad Bauer said in regard to the origin of the tour.

Bauer said he turned to Andrew Cassiday, Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationist, when Cassiday thought cover crops would spark the attention of many local producers.

“It’s something that’s been growing interest over the past few years from landowners, cattle producers, to minimize input and maximize productivity,” Cassiday said.

Organizers noted that if there’s a topic that may be of interest of fellow community members, contact the Sheridan Community Land Trust on their website to start a conversation about organizing another tour.