Getting CLC on the landscape is a multi-faceted endeavor involving research, education, extension, market and supply chain development, policy initiatives, and active collaborations that engage partners across sectors – farmers, landowners, businesses, agencies, nonprofits, policymakers, and so on. This page connects you to a number of resources to use and build upon to make CLC Happen!
Making CLC Happen
Value chains for CLC crops
One of the most obvious and important levers for getting more CLC crops planted in farm fields and across the landscape is markets for the crops. In between the farm field and a final consumer, there is often a complex web of interactions that can include processing, storage, aggregation, distribution, wholesale purchasing, marketing, and other tasks of value chain coordination. Across the Upper Midwest, an active network of GLBW partners and allies are working hard to create values-based supply chains for CLC crops. Centering farmer economic viability and community wealth building, this work is meant to create functional supply chains for crops while moving beyond the traditional transactional nature of supply chains — elevating the importance of relationships, integrity, transparency, and social and environmental components and impacts. A few tools and resources related to value chains for CLC crops can be found below.
- Growing beyond the research realm: Green Lands Blue Waters reflections on early-stage commercialization and farmer adoption of Kernza® perennial grain. December 2022
- This narrative reflection chronicles GLBW staff perspectives on several years work with early value chain coordination for Kernza and offers lessons learned to inform future innovative crops and cropping systems. December 2022
- Shared values as we strengthen the food system through value chain coordination. December 2022
- This graphic was created by Amy Sparks and developed jointly by a group of peer organizations building value chains for perennials and other crops that provide living cover on the farm landscape: Artisan Grain Collaborative, Forever Green, Grassland 2.0, Green Lands Blue Waters, Savanna Institute, and Wallace Center at Winrock International. It shows the shared vision of what we are collectively working toward with an aim for greater connectivity across and impact in value chain coordination work at the landscape-scale in the upper Midwest.
Technical Assistance for CLC
November 2022 Update: GLBW and the Conservation Professional Training Program (at University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension) are excited to announce the launch of a training development project, Continuous Living Cover 101 – Building a Foundation for Early Career Conservation Professionals. This project is funded by a 2022 North Central SARE Professional Development Grant. Ultimately, the training will empower those working with landowners to increase successful implementation of Continuous Living Cover (CLC) in the Upper Midwest. A self-paced, online training will be created through this grant, delivering accessible introductory Continuous Living Cover (CLC) training materials that meet current professional development needs of early career conservation and technical advisors. It will explain CLC strategies and benefits and how they integrate with soil health principles, giving trainees confidence in communicating CLC practices to farmers and identifying CLC resources. Stay tuned for information on this future training!
For several years, Green Lands Blue Waters and partners have been asking questions like –
How can we help more farmers get the information they need to increase continuous living cover?
Who will be the next generation of technical assistance (TA) providers?
How do we ensure that those providers are adequately trained, and that funding and policy supports increased capacity for these TA providers to reach farmers, leading to the changes we want to see on the landscape?
We’ve been working hard to help answer these questions. In 2022 we created a conversation starter and basic information guide full of ideas and contact information for staff at NRCS and SWCDs who run training programs, and for others who share our goals of increasing CLC training opportunities for conservation professionals. All contact information has been shared with the permission of those listed; please reach out directly if you’d like to work with any of the listed contacts to give or receive CLC-related training information.
We’ve also co-hosted small group conversations with Midwest Row Crop Collaborative and others on working with Certified Crop Advisors/ ag retailers. A summary of that work is below.
Further background. From 2020-2021 we asked CLC leaders in our networks to help us answer these questions through a series of interviews, a 10 question survey, and a virtual post-it-note type exercise. We are using the term “technical assistance providers” intentionally broadly. What we are driving towards is what channels are currently or could in the future be effective in reaching farmers with good resources, information and skill building on CLC crops and cropping systems. You’ll find the synthesis of what we heard below.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2021, a talented capstone team of masters students from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs continued this work through background research and a series of interviews with county-level staff, CCAs (Certified Crop Advisors), and soil health consultants and trainers across the Upper Midwest. Their work can be found in the report and the presentation below.
Changing Non-operator Landowner Conservation Behavior
Integrating Conservation into Farmland Transfers
Perennial Forage & Grazing
- See website for GLBW’s Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group
CLC & NRCS Programs
- Fact Sheet: Opportunities to Prioritize Funding for CLC and Agroforestry in NRCS Practices – GLBW, Mar 2023 [COMING]
- Fact Sheet: Opportunities to Prioritize Funding for CLC and Perennial Grains in NRCS Practices – GLBW, Jun 2022
- Series of case studies sharing examples of farmers using Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) programs to implement continuous living cover on farm. Learn how these farmers are using EQIP, CRP and CSP to support perennial pasture, livestock, agroforestry, shelterbelts, perennial buffers and more.
- Report: NRCS State Opportunity Reports – GLBW, Jul 2021
- This report summarizes GLBW interviews with state NRCS staff from Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota and includes highlights about building awareness, education, and implementation of CLC practices into NRCS programs.
- Fact Sheet: Examples of NRCS program support for CLC farming – GLBW, Oct 2020
- Paper: Summary of the activities of the GLBW NRCS Continuous Living Cover Cohort, 2018-2020 – GLBW, Oct 2020
- Fact Sheet: NRCS and the Benefits of Agroforestry – Savanna Institute and WI NRCS, Nov 2019
- Paper: NRCS Opportunities for Increasing Continuous Living Cover Farming Systems – GLBW, Jun 2018
- Fact Sheet: Recommended Actions to include Continuous Living Cover Farming Systems in the Environmental Quality Incentives and Conservation Stewardship Programs – GLBW, May 2018
Use the links below to access the Green Lands Blue Waters Continuous Living Cover Manual.
This manual was originally produced in 2015 with support from a North Central Region SARE Professional Development Program grant (NCR-SARE-PDP) by Jane Grimsbo Jewett and Sadie Schroeder.
Full Continuous Living Cover Manual (248 pages, opens in new browser tab)
CLC Manual Chapters:
Continuous Living Cover Introduction
Continuous Living Cover Practices
Continuous Living Cover Funding Opportunities
Perennial Forage in the Crop Rotation
Placement of Continuous Living Cover
Stacking of Continuous Living Cover Strategies
- Basics of Contract Grazing
- Pasture Rental and Lease Agreements
- Evaluating Land Suitability for Grazing Cattle
- Rates Charged for Contract Grazing Arrangements
- Practices to Improve Water Quality
- Income Opportunities with Agroforestry
- Energy and Economic Returns by Crop Rotation
- Long Term Effects of Crop Management: Profitability
- Long Term Effects of Crop Management: Soil Quality
- Long Term Effects of Crop Management: Yield
- Small Changes, Big Impacts: Prairie STRIPS
- Cost of Prairie STRIPS
- Impact of Prairie STRIPS