Cover crops are focus of March 25 field day in southeast Iowa

Cover crops are focus of March 25 field day in southeast Iowa

Interested in learning more about cover crops? Attend this field day on the Steve and Dennis Berger farm.

Iowa Learning Farms, along with the Iowa Cover Crop Working Group and Washington County Farm Bureau, will host a field day Wednesday, March 25 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Steve and Dennis Berger farm, in rural Wellman.

NO-TILL AND COVER CROPS: Southeast Iowa farmer Steve Berger has 15 years of experience using cover crops. His dad began no-tilling 40 years ago. Steve will explain their system of terraces, cover crops and no-till practices at a field day on their farm March 25.

Speaking at this southeast Iowa field day will be host farmer Steve Berger, who will talk about his experiences using cereal rye cover crop with his no-till system. Also speaking are Iowa State University Extension ag engineers Mark Hanna and Greg Brenneman. Hanna will review equipment needs for using cover crops with no-till. Brenneman will discuss manure management for this system. Following the speakers, attendees can view the equipment on display, enjoy a complimentary meal, and go to the fields to see the cover crops, weather permitting.

Berger is 2015 National Conservation Legacy Award winner

Steve Berger and his father Dennis have built a legacy of conservation implementation and are an example of the progress farmers are making in environmental stewardship and water quality. Steve recently won the 2015 National Conservation Legacy Award from the American Soybean Association. A well-known speaker, quite knowledgeable with 15 years of cover crop experience, Steve will discuss the practices he and Dennis use on their farm, which has been in continuous no-till for almost 40 years.

Equipment to be on display will include:
•John Deere 1770NT planter with Precision Planting's CleanSweep row cleaner, DeltaForce hydraulic down pressure, and vDrive planter meter that the Bergers use to plant corn into living and terminated cover crops and to establish a good stand.

•CrustBuster All Plant drill with 10-inch spacings set up for no-till planting soybeans and cereal rye.

•Houle manure spreader equipped with VTI vertical tillage injectors.

The field day will be at the machine shed on the Bergers' farm: 1267 Elm Ave., rural Wellman. From Wellman, take Highway 22 west for one mile, turn north onto 128th Place. Follow for a quarter mile and turn north onto Elm Ave. The machine shed will be immediately on the right side of the road. The field day is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested. Contact Iowa Learning Farms to reserve a place for the meal at phone 515-294-8912, or email [email protected].

As part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, cover crops added to a corn-soybean rotation reduces soil erosion, reduces nitrogen and phosphorus loads, and increases soil organic matter. Research has shown that cover crops can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses by approximately 30%. These crops, used in combination with other best management practices, will reduce point and nonpoint source pollution significantly in Iowa waters and downstream. The Iowa Cover Crop Working Group promotes the use of living cover on Iowa agricultural lands. The group provides a unified voice from academy, nonprofit, and industry sectors on the benefits of cover crops and encourages their use in cropping systems across the state. For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit the website at
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