The regular monthly Iowa Learning Farms webinar for April will be on Wednesday, April 15, at 1 p.m. This month's guest speaker is Timothy Youngquist, agriculture specialist in the Iowa State University department of agronomy.
The presentation will focus on Iowa State research showing that strategically converting 10% of a crop field into perennial prairie can greatly reduce soil erosion as well as phosphorous and nitrogen loss. Initial research conducted in central Iowa and the adoption of prairie strips on private farms will be discussed. The benefits of prairie and design considerations for siting prairie strips within farm fields will be covered.
It's a plus that prairie strips rank among the least expensive in-field management practices. They cost approximately $40 per treated acre. And that cost is spread over a 15-year average. Cost-share funding is available for prairie strips through the USDA/NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program or EQIP.
Designing and installing buffer strips, an effective conservation tool
Timothy Youngquist grew up on a century farm near Kiron, in northwest Iowa, which has been continuously farmed by his family since 1871. He has assisted his father with all aspects of their corn and soybean operation. As part of his family's conservation efforts, he has been overseeing a project on their land creating buffer strips using native prairie in fields and riparian zones. Youngquist's role with the ISU agronomy department is to help farmers throughout the Midwest design and implement in-field buffer strips using native perennial prairie species.
Prairie strips placed strategically within Iowa fields are providing impressive results to help row-crop farms reduce nutrient loss. "We've seen dramatic environmental improvements with as little as 10% of the land in prairie strips placed on the contours of row-cropped watersheds," he says. Improvements from strategically placed prairie strips include a 95% reduction in sediment transport, 90% reduction in phosphorus and total nitrogen transport, and 60% reduction in surface water flow from ISU's experimental sites, which are cropped on a corn-soybean rotation using no-till. Positive results can be measured in the first year after a prairie strip has been installed.
ILF webinars are free; all you need is a computer with Internet
The ILF webinars are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m. They are free and all that is needed to participate is a computer with Internet access. Go to connect.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/ at 1 p.m. on the afternoon of the webinar and log in through the guest option. Webinar participants will be able to converse with Youngquist by typing their questions through the chat function. The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ILF website for viewing at any time at extension.iastate.edu/ilf/Webinars/.
Since January 2011, ILF has hosted a webinar every month. There are more than 45 webinars to view on a wide range of topics including soil erosion, cover crops, buffers, bioreactors, and farmer perspectives. The webinar archives also are available in podcast through iTunes.