Learn more about cover crops and soil health

Learn more about cover crops and soil health

Cover crop and soil health field days will be held Aug. 16 at Gilman, Aug. 24 at Newell and Aug. 25 at Eagle Grove.

Mark your calendar to attend an upcoming field day near you to learn about cover crops and soil health. Several are being held at various Iowa locations this month. Here is information about one that will be held in central Iowa at Gilman, and two that will be held in northern Iowa at Eagle Grove and at Newell.

SOIL HEALTH PARTNERSHIP: This farmer-led project provides for sharing peer-to-peer information to benefit sustainability and profitability. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, it provides the spark for greater understanding and use of best practices to protect resources for future generations.

Central Iowa farmers to discuss cover crops at Gilman farm
The Soil Health Partnership will hold a field day and farmer discussion session Aug. 16 at the Brent Jacobson farm from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The farm is at 2832 Dillon Road, Gilman, Iowa. Topics include introduction to soil health, and a practical discussion by local farmers on soil health building practices they are using on their farms. Experts from USDA/NRCS and ISU Extension will be on hand to answer questions. For more information and to RSVP visit soilhealthpartnership.org/field-days.html.

Iowa Learning Farms and Iowa State University Extension will host a cover crop field day Wednesday, Aug. 24, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. near Newell in northwest Iowa. Also, ILF in cooperation with farmer-partner Tim Smith and the Soil Health Partnership will host a cover crop field day Thursday, August 25 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon near Eagle Grove in north central Iowa. Both of these field days are free and open to the public, and include a complimentary lunch.

Cover crop field day Aug. 24 is at ISU Allee Farm near Newell
The Aug. 24 field day is on the ISU Allee Demonstration & Research Farm at Newell. Cover crops continue to grow in popularity in Iowa due to the many benefits they provide,” says Paul Kassel, ISU Extension field agronomist based at Spencer. “Such benefits include reduced nitrogen and phosphorus loads entering water bodies, increased soil organic matter, and reduced soil erosion. Species selection and seeding method have a significant impact on achieving these benefits and farmer’s goals.”

Agenda topics for the field day at Newell include:
* Cover crop species selection and management

* Local famers sharing experiences with grazing cover crops and using different seeding methods including high clearance seeders and aerial application

* NRCS program updates for cover crops

The field day at the ISU Allee Demonstration Farm is at 2030 640th St, Newell, Iowa 50568. The Allee Demonstration Farm is located 1.5 miles west on a gravel road (640th Street) that intersects Highway 7 at the curve. Destination is on the south side of the road. The workshop is free and open to the public, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate space and food. Call Liz Juchems at 515-294-5429 or email her at ilf@iastate.edu to reserve your space.

Cover crop field day August 25 is near Eagle Grove
The Eagle Grove field day will feature farmer Tim Smith discussing the many Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and soil health practices he has implemented on his farm since 2011 when he first began working with the Mississippi River Basin Initiative. Since then Smith has installed a bioreactor, practiced nutrient management, and started growing winter cereal rye cover crops.

In 2014, Smith joined the Soil Health Partnership and began a five-year cover crop demonstration project. Through the project, Smith has expanded his cover crop species to include oats, hairy vetch and radishes and will collect soil samples to measure changes in the soil.

Using new practices, you can prevent nutrient loss and erosion
“Iowa has some of the richest, most productive farmland in the world. By implementing new practices, we can prevent nutrient loss and erosion, and improve soil structure,” says Elyssa McFarland, Soil Health Partnership field manager for Iowa. “Farmer-to-farmer learning in actual farm environments really tells the story of the difference adopting these practices can make. Our research through this project will quantify that over time as well.”

The field day also includes discussion on soil health, research results from two projects Smith participated in with the Iowa Learning Farms, Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Iowa Cover Crop Working Group, an update on the Boone River and Eagle Creek Watershed projects, and the Conservation Station rainfall simulator demo. The field day will be at Tim Smith’s Farm, 2634 Hancock Ave, Eagle Grove, Iowa 50533. From Eagle Grove, head east on NE 2nd Street and continue on 265th Street for 3.6 miles. Turn left to go north on Hancock Avenue for 0.2 miles. It’s on the east side of the road.

The workshop is free and open to the public, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate space and food. Contact Liz Juchems at 515-294-5429 or email ilf@iastate.edu or register online at SoilHealthPartnership.org.

About Iowa Learning Farms: Established in 2004, ILF is building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members work 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 & Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Conserva­tion Districts of Iowa, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Water Center and Practical Farmers of Iowa. For more about ILF visit extension.iastate.edu/ilf/.

About the Soil Health Partnership: The SHP is holding at least nine field days throughout the state through September. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, SHP works closely with diverse organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies and well-known environmental groups toward common goals. The SHP is in its third year with 65 partner farms across eight Midwest states. It brings together diverse partner organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies, universities and environmental groups to work toward the common goal of improving soil health. Over a period of at least 10 years, the SHP will identify, test and measure farm management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers. Visit soilhealthpartnership.org.

TAGS: USDA Extension
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