"As farmers, we believe in being stewards of the land and water for our families, our communities and the next generation," says Jerry Mohr, immediate past president and current chairman of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. ICGA along with the Iowa Corn Promotion Board continue to take the lead in helping farmers find sustainable and doable science-based solutions to conservation and water quality issues. As part of this effort, Iowa Corn will hold a farmer-to-farmer roundtable discussion January 15 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Fisher Theater on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames.
Discussion on cover crops, no-till farming, conservation
Invited to moderate the discussion is Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey. Three Iowa farmers will share their conservation practices. Northey will lead the panel in discussions on investing in technologies and practices to improve soil and water quality. Participants will include:
•Jerry Mohr, an east-central Iowa farmer
•Jolene Riessen: a northwest Iowa farmer
•Steve Berger: a southeast Iowa farmer
As chairman of ICGA, Jerry Mohr understands the importance of using conservation practices, like incorporating cover crops, as a means of implementing the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. "The way I look at it is, when dirt moves, part of me moves," says Mohr. "We need to preserve the top soil so we can grow productive crops today and for the next generations. The more we can convene as farmers in adopting changes, the further we will be in having a long-term positive impact."
To participate, go to iowacorn.org/water for information on attending in-person or watching the discussion via livestream.
Iowa Corn key water quality initiatives include:
•Engaging in unique initiatives like the Soil Health Partnership which employ real-world, farmer-to-farmer education and encourage adoption of practices to support soil and water quality.
•Working with the Iowa Ag Water Alliance to unify agriculture's water quality efforts.
•Proactively communicating the positive steps farmers are taking to implement these practices on their farms.
"We always want something covering our soil," says Steve Berger of Wellman, a farmer who has many years of experience with cover crops. Berger, who with his late father, Dennis, worked decades building their farm's soil health so it would better hold water and nutrients. The two farmers, father and son, began no-till farming about 35 years ago, and 15 years ago started planting cover crops each fall. Both of these practices are part of the conservation package of practices the state of Iowa is now urging farmers to adopt to help improve Iowa's water quality.
The state's Nutrient Reduction Strategy enlists aggressive conservation practices in its goals to cut nitrogen and phosphorus levels in Iowa's water by 45%. And although cover crops help get the state closer to that goal, only about 500,000 of Iowa's 23 million corn and soybean acres are planted to cover crops. The push for greater conservation has become more pivotal as farmers increasingly have been on the hot seat in the debate over agriculture's impact on water quality.