Iowa Learning Farms Hosts Upcoming Field Days

Iowa Learning Farms Hosts Upcoming Field Days

ILF is sponsoring a strip-till, no-till and cover crop management field day July 20 near Otho and July 27 near Greenfield. "Energy crops" are the topic of July 20 ILF webinar.

Iowa Learning Farms will sponsor a strip-tillage, no-till and cover crop management field day at the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust Farm, south of Otho in Webster County, on Wednesday, July 20, from 6-8 p.m. The field day is free, includes a complimentary dinner and the public is invited to attend.

ILF will also hold a field day on July 27 near Greenfield in Adair County. This field day will include a complimentary dinner, and information about strategies for no-till as well as information about incorporating perennial vegetation to enhance no-till. The event is free and open to the public. Here's more information about both of these field days.

Also, this month's ILF Webinar is July 20 and "Miscanthus As A Bioenergy Crop" is the topic. Following is information you need to tune-in via your computer and listen to this broadcast, which is archived if you want to view it at another time.

Iowa Learning Farms July 20 Field Day at Smeltzer Trust Farm

Iowa Learning Farms will sponsor a strip-tillage and cover crop management field day at the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust Farm, south of Otho in Webster County, on Wednesday, July 20, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The field day is free, includes a complimentary dinner and the public is invited to attend.

The field day will focus on strip-tillage and cover crop management. Attendees can view in-field demonstrations of mole knife and dual-coulter style strip-till equipment and discuss strip-till management with Gary and Dave Nelson. The Nelson father and son team manage the Smeltzer Farm row crop acres as part of their family farm operation.

Benefits of strip-till and no-till to be discusssed, and other topics

Strip-tillage marries the best aspects of conventional tillage with the benefits of no-till, says Gary Nelson. Before planting (fall post-harvest, or spring pre-plant) a strip-tillage implement creates strips of tilled soil. Surface residue is left undisturbed between the tilled strips. Corn or soybeans are planted into the tilled soil strips, which warm and dry faster than the rest of the field. This practice offers better water infiltration, improved soil structure, and potential for reduced fuel, machinery and other crop input costs.

Other field day speakers include Sarah Carlson, research and policy director with Practical Farmers of Iowa, who will discuss fall-seeded cereal grain cover crop management and will highlight the Smeltzer Farm demonstration site of corn planted into fall 2010 aerial-seeded winter rye cover crop. Laura Christianson, Ph.D. candidate in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering department at Iowa State University, will discuss wood chip bioreactors and other techniques to limit nitrate transport to water bodies. A denitrifying bioreactor is one of many soil and water quality-enhancing features of the Smeltzer Farm.

Bring the family, even young visitors can learn about ag at this farm

Visitors of all ages can learn something about Iowa agriculture at the Smeltzer Farm. Families are encouraged to come to the field day to see the Conservation Station. The Conservation Station's rainfall simulator shows the effects of rain on several different surface scenarios and subsurface drainage including highly disturbed land, no-till and residue-covered surfaces, buffers and permeable pavement. The learning lab portion of the Conservation Station includes displays and activities highlighting why soil and water quality are important to everyone. Kids can become members of the "conservation pack" by participating in the Conservation Station activities.

The Smeltzer Farm is a unique experience as it contains examples of almost every conservation practice that can be put in place. The Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust board oversees the management of the farm and works to develop the farm that Miss Smeltzer envisioned: a learning environment for conservation practices and environmental issues.

Farmers and non-farmers can learn from seeing the row crop demonstration plots, stream bank restoration, waterways and buffers that have been installed on the farm. Webster County Conservation Naturalist Karen Hansen will be at the field day to show families some of the farm features, with the help of Sam Adams, the new Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist for Webster County.

The Smeltzer Trust Farm is located in Webster County, Iowa, on County Road P59 (Nelson Avenue), 2.5 miles south of Otho, on the east side of the road.

Iowa Learning Farms will also have July 27 field day near Greenfield

Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) is sponsoring a field day at the Iowa State University (ISU) Neely-Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm near Greenfield, Adair County, on Wednesday, July 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The field day will include a complimentary dinner, and information about strategies for no-till as well as information about incorporating perennial vegetation to enhance no-till.

Attendees will be able to see and learn about Giant Miscanthus and other perennial energy crops. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Farmers and landowners interested in beginning no-till or who are experienced no-tillers can learn from the speakers at the field day.

Greenfield area no-till farmer Randy Caviness will share his experiences from more than 20 years of no-till crop management. Jeremy Singer, research agronomist with the USDA's National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment at Ames, will answer questions about managing fall-seeded cover crops. The benefits of cover crops include enhancing no-till by reducing soil erosion and improving long-term soil tilth and water quality.

Innovations to save soil, and preserve water quality to be discussed

Also speaking are ISU Extension agricultural engineer Matt Helmers, who will discuss the potential of integrating perennial prairie strips with row crops to limit sediment and nutrient losses from crop acres. Emily Heaton, ISU assistant professor of agronomy, will showcase Giant Miscanthus plants that are being grown at the research farm. These perennial plants are being tested as an alternate source for biofuel energy production. ISU Extension agricultural engineer Mark Hanna will show farmers how to equip planters for successful no-till corn or soybean planting in high residue levels and will also offer farm energy and money-saving management tips.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their families to the field day to see the Conservation Station, a mobile learning lab that teaches audiences of all ages about the importance of soil and water quality. The back of the Conservation Station houses a rainfall simulator, demonstrating the effects of rainfall on undisturbed soils with a variety of land covers, showing both surface water runoff as well as subsurface drainage. At the front is a learning center with displays and activities to learn about soil and water quality. Kids who attend the field day can become members of the "conservation pack" by participating in the Conservation Station's activities.

The ISU Neely-Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm is located two miles south of Greenfield on Highway 25, then one-half mile east on 260th Street and a one-half mile north on Norfolk Avenue.

ILF July webinar focuses on growing miscanthus for biofuel energy

ILF's July webinar, to be held Wednesday, July 20 at noon, will feature Emily Heaton, who will present "Giant Miscanthus and other perennial energy crops." The webinar is part of a series, hosted by ILF, held on the third Wednesday of each month. The webinars are held over the noon hour through Adobe Connect.

All that is needed to participate is a computer with Internet access. Emily Heaton is an assistant professor of agronomy at Iowa State University, focusing on biomass crop production and physiology. While pursuing her doctorate in crop sciences at the University of Illinois, she pioneered and led research comparing the biomass production of Miscanthus and switchgrass in the U.S., research that indicated Miscanthus could produce 250% more ethanol than corn, without requiring additional land. Heaton joined ISU from Ceres, a plant genetics company in California that specializes in biomass crop breeding for fuel. At Iowa State, Heaton focuses on best management practices for perennial energy crops, with particular emphasis on Miscanthus and switchgrass.

To connect to the webinars, go to: https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/.  Heaton will be able to answer questions from webinar "attendees" via the Adobe Connect chat box. The ILF website homepage contains links for archived webinars from previous months: www.extension.iastate.edu/ilf.

Upcoming webinars include: ISU agronomy professor Richard Cruse will discuss the report "Losing Ground" in August; Drake University Ag Law Center fellow Edward Cox will present information on the land tenure project with the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in September. Please contact ILF with other topic ideas for future webinar sessions.

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