Iowa State University faculty and staff will work with 11 Iowa farmers as part of the 2011 ISU On-Farm Research and Demonstration Grant program. The grants go to faculty-farmer teams to answer specific questions.
The program's goal is to address important challenges facing the sustainability of Iowa agriculture through partnerships between farmers and researchers. The program is a collaboration of ISU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU and Practical Farmers of Iowa.
A total of $19,418 was awarded for five projects, each ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. All projects have a span of 24 months to be completed. Here are the research questions and who will be working on them:
Does raw milk improve forage quality and boost beef production? Joe Sellers, ISU Extension beef specialist, will work with Ray Bratsch-Prince of Story County and Tom Cory of Polk County. The project will explore claims that cattle have an increased desire for grass that has had an application of raw milk, a by-product in the manufacture of cheese. The long-term goal will be to determine whether the new method increases the number of pounds of beef produced.
What's the potential for aquaponics in Iowa? Craig Chase, ISU Extension farm management specialist, will work with Jeff Hafner, who owns Early Morning Harvest L.L.C. in Panora on this research question. Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics in which high-quality vegetables and fish are produced in the same facility with little environmental impact. The project will look at the economic and biological feasibility for an aquaponics operation in Iowa.
Can Vitamin A supplements help control pink eye in cattle? Annette O'Connor, a professor in the ISU Veterinary College, will work with Ron Rosmann, who has an organic livestock farm near Harlan. Pink eye (infectious bovine keratoconjuctivitis) is a severe infection when contracted by cattle and can account for major weight loss. The goal of O'Connor's project is to provide producers and veterinarians with better information for control of pink eye.
How can granular insecticides be reduced in corn? Josh Sievers, an ag specialist at the Northwest Research and Demonstration Farm near Sutherland, and Joel DeJong, ISU Extension field agronomist, will work with Mike Schouten of Sioux Center, Randy Van Veldhuizen of Hawarden, Rodney Mogler of Alvord and Dean Meyer of Larchwood on this research question. The project will focus on reducing the use of granular insecticides on corn hybrids that contain a protein from a naturally occurring bacterium that protects the plant from pests such as rootworm. The project will attempt to identify situations where granular insecticide might be needed and where it is unnecessary.
Are there residual effects of no-till soybeans on the following year's corn crop? ISU's Josh Sievers and Joel DeJong will work with Ryan Odens of Little Rock, Pete Van Regenmorter of Inwood, and Mike Schouten of Sioux Center. Through previous research, this project found that there could be yield differences due to the previous soybean tillage practice. The goal is to further explore this question so that area farmers feel comfortable with their no-till soybean program and that it is a sustainable option for them.
The on-farm grant program has been in operation for several years. Practical Farmers of Iowa includes a diverse group of farmers and friends of farmers. Corn, soybeans, beef cattle and hay are the top enterprises for PFI farmers, although many have a variety of other operations, including fruits and vegetables. PFI's programming stresses farmer-to-farmer networking through research and demonstration, field days, conferences and more.
The Leopold Center also works with farmer cooperators on many of its research and education programs. The center was established by the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act to conduct research on farming systems that are both profitable and conserve natural resources. For more information about ISU On-Farm Research and Demonstration Grants, contact Leopold Center program coordinator Malcolm Robertson at 515-294-1166, or [email protected].