Iowa Learning Farms, along with the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, will host a field day at Chris Henning's farm near Jefferson in west-central Iowa, on Monday, Oct. 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and includes a complimentary lunch. The field day will focus on Henning's farm improvement including cover crops and wetlands.
Henning will talk about what she has done to improve and preserve her land including prairies, buffers, wetlands and cover crops. Her approach is a "light hand on the land." She says you need to decide what you want to achieve with the cover crop. Some cover crops allow you to grow your own nitrogen. Others help capture nitrogen so it doesn't leach down below the following crop's root zone. Cover crops can also add diversity to crop rotation systems. Some cover crops are tolerant to temperatures as low as 10 degrees F, which means they can be flown onto soybeans or corn as soon as those crops reach senescence.
Other things to consider include deciding if you want cool-season or warm-season types of cover. Also, consider costs. And consider the available moisture you have in the soil. Beware of possible pests. Look at competitive effects. Consider the impact of herbicides, and determine fertilizer needs.
Find a cover crop mix that's designed to work for your farm, in your conditions
Also on the agenda for the event: Sarah Carlson, Practical Farmers of Iowa, will discuss cover crop varieties, opportunities and benefits to add them into a corn-soybean rotation; ISU Extension and Outreach water quality engineer Matt Helmers will present information on the Science-based Trials of Row-crops Integrated Prairie (STRIPs) project. The STRIPs project is exploring the addition of strategic placement of perennial plants in row-crop fields to improve water retention, soil quality and improved biodiversity. Also a presentation with the Conservation Station offers visual lessons the importance of soil and water quality preservation.
The event is free and the public is invited to attend, but an RSVP is recommended. To register for this event, call Iowa Learning Farms, 515-294-8912 as soon as possible. The field day is sponsored by the Iowa Learning Farms in cooperation with Women, Food and Agriculture Network's Women Caring for the Land(SM) conservation education program for women.
The Henning farm is located at 1931 Q Ave., Jefferson. From Jefferson, travel four miles south on Highway 4 (N Ave.) to 290th St. Turn east and go 2.5 miles on 290th St. to Q Ave.; go north approximately a half-mile. The farm is on the east side of the road.
Iowa Learning Farms takes a grassroots approach offering innovative ways to help all Iowans have an active role in keeping our state's natural resources healthy and not take them for granted, says Carol Brown, director of communications for ILF. A goal of ILF is to build a Culture of Conservation, encouraging the adoption of residue management and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable.