Cover Crops, Soil Health Are Focus Of Upcoming Field Days

Cover Crops, Soil Health Are Focus Of Upcoming Field Days

Iowa Learning Farms to host four field days in September on cover crops and conservation farming.

Iowa Learning Farms is hosting four cover crop field days this September, each event will have a different aspect of this conservation farming practice. ILF field days are open to the public and include speakers who are experts on the field day topic as well as local farmers who are using this conservation practice. It is the goal of ILF to enable farmers to talk with other farmers and experts to gain knowledge and ultimately adopt conservation practices. You can get the latest information and answers to your questions at these upcoming field days.

The field days this fall are as follows:

COVER CROP QUESTIONS: As cover crops are being planted on more acres in Iowa, farmers are continuing to experiment with seeding methods, timing and species. You can get the latest updates by attending Iowa Learning Farms field days in September.

* Tuesday, Sept. 9, 5-7 pm: Seth Watkins farm, Taylor County. Seth Watkins is using cover crops and has planted perennial prairie strips within his cash crop fields. He will talk about using both of these practices for soil health and reducing erosion. Also speaking are Iowa State University (ISU) assistant professor and pollinator expert Mary Harris, ISU agriculture specialist and prairie plant expert Tim Youngquist, and NRCS District Conservationist Doug Davenport. A complimentary meal is included with the Taylor Co. Cattlemen at the grill.

* Wednesday, Sept. 10, 5:30-7:30 pm: Bio-Renewables Field Day at the University of Iowa (UI) miscanthus test plot, Iowa City. Join landowner Dan Black and ISU assistant professor of agronomy Emily Heaton at this field day as they discuss the University of Iowa's Miscanthus Pilot Project. The project is exploring the use of this grass as a biofuel on the UI campus. Ben Anderson, with the UI Power Plant, will explain how miscanthus is being used in their solid fuel boilers.  Enjoy a meal prepared by the Johnson County Cattlemen.

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* Friday, Sept. 12, 10:30 am-12:30 pm: Titan Machinery, Williams. Adding cover crops to a cash crop rotation is the emphasis at this field day, co-sponsored by Farm Bureau. ISU professor Matt Helmers will talk about the benefits of adding cover crops and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Also, hear from an area farmer who has incorporated cover crops into their practice.

* Wednesday, Sept. 17, 12-2 pm: Dennis Lundy farm, Adair County. This field day will explore ways to add cover crops and also no-tilling alfalfa following wheat through extended crop rotations. Host farmer Dennis Lundy and his neighbor, Wendell Zimmerman, will share how they are using cover crops on their farms. Although they are using them in different ways, both farmers are reducing soil erosion and increasing soil health. Iowa Water Center Director and ISU Agronomy Professor Rick Cruse will discuss erosion in Iowa's fields and how cover crops and other practices can reduce this problem. Enjoy a meal prepared by the Adair County Cattlemen.

All field days are free and include a complimentary meal, but an RSVP is encouraged. To RSVP to any of the field days, contact Iowa Learning Farms, 515-294-8912 or via email: [email protected] to be included in the meal count. For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit the website.

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms are the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319), Conservation Districts of Iowa, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Water Center and Practical Farmers of Iowa.

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