After working with over 50 farmers this past winter, the Iowa Conservation Action Network—known as IACAN—has scheduled meetings this summer to help more farmers plan soil and water conservation practices for their farms. IACAN is a unique private sector initiative to demonstrate technology-based conservation practice planning that is supported by the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Land Improvement Contractors Association or LICA.
The meetings allow for farmers to come anytime during the scheduled date and time to receive planning assistance. Conservation planners will sit down individually with each farmer and run conservation planning software for the practices that the farmer is interested in—those include grassed waterways, ponds, wetlands, sediment basins and soil loss assessments. For each practice, farmers will receive a report that includes an aerial photo and a cost estimate for installing the conservation practice. The purpose is to help farmers evaluate the various practices to help figure out which would work best in their farming situation.
Goal is to help support Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy
"What we currently use in the public sector for conservation technical assistance isn't keeping up today," says Roger Zylstra, a farmer from Central Iowa and the President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. "We can do a better job and through technology, we can accelerate our adoption rate and have better farmer support of Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy."
The free conservation planning assistance is available to ICGA and ISA members for a limited time in five priority watersheds: Floyd, Turkey, Middle Cedar, and East and West Nishnabotna. Members in these watersheds and adjoining counties can call, email, or attend meetings to get planning assistance. Meetings include lunch and are open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the following dates and locations:
* July 7 at Titan Machinery in Grundy Center
* July 8 at Harlan Golf and Country Club in Harlan
* July 21 at Atlantic Golf and Country Club in Atlantic
* July 22 at Pizza Ranch in Vinton
* August 11 at Pizza Ranch in Le Mars
* August 12 at 122 in West Union
"This project is a great opportunity for ISA and ICGA members in these watersheds to receive conservation planning assistance," says Brian Kemp, Iowa Soybean Association president and farmer from Sibley. "ISA is committed to helping Iowa farmers engage in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, and this project is a great opportunity to test some cutting edge tools."
This assistance uses conservation planning software
The planning assistance relies on a suite of conservation practice planning software programs developed by Iowa-based small-business, Agren. The Agren software uses aerial imagery and high resolution elevation data to reduce the time to plan conservation practices from weeks to just minutes. Using technology to improve production has been central to agriculture.
The chairman of Iowa LICA, Tim Recker says, "By combining resources, we have the capacity to make a significant and long-term impact on conservation delivery in Iowa. Furthermore, as representatives of farm and earth-moving businesses in Iowa, we aim to preserve the livelihoods of our member businesses."
"IACAN focuses on engaging the private sector in conservation planning to help our member-farmers achieve the goals called for in the nutrient reduction strategy," he adds. For more information visit www.iowaconservation.org or call 855-376-6815.