Strip-Till To Be Featured At ILF Field Days

Strip-Till To Be Featured At ILF Field Days

Iowa Learning Farms is co-hosting several field days focusing on strip-tillage, cover crop management, fuel savings and wetlands management. Also, ILF will hold monthly webinar June 15.

The Iowa Learning Farms program, in cooperation with Practical Farmers of Iowa and other partners, will co-host several field days this week and next regarding soil and water conservation management and crop production. ILF will also hold a webinar in June, which you can tune into on your home computer. The field days and the webinar are free and open to the public, to anyone who is interested in learning more about these topics.

JUNE 14 FIELD DAY: Iowa Learning Farms will sponsor a strip-tillage "Open House" at the Arlo Van Diest farm in Hamilton County on Tuesday, June 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. With today's high fuel prices, cash rents and land costs, there has never been a better time to explore reduced tillage options. Visit the Van Diest farm to see how strip-tillage works and learn from a local farmer experienced with this practice. Visitors are welcome to come and go anytime. Talk with Arlo and visit their spring strip-tilled acres.

Strip-tillage marries the best aspects of conventional tillage with the benefits of no-till. 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. In the spring, corn or soybeans are planted into the tilled soil strips, which warm and dry faster than the rest of the field, making this system ideal for some Iowa soil types. Landowners and farmers should see better water infiltration, improved soil structure and potential for reduced fuel, machinery and other crop input costs with the implementation of strip-tillage.

Van Diest is known in the area as a strip-tillage expert and is happy to share his experiences with others interested in this conservation tillage practice. He elects to strip-till his fields in the spring, leaving the fields at rest after harvest. Van Diest's farm is located at 1491 220th St.; 1.25 miles west of Webster City on county road D20 (220th Street) at the corner of Fenton Ave.

JUNE 17 FIELD DAY: Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa will co-sponsor a field day with Iowa State University Extension field agronomist Paul Kassel and farmer Jeff Joyce in Palo Alto County in northwest Iowa on Friday, June 17, from 12:00-1:30 p.m. The field day will begin with a complimentary meal at noon, followed by discussion of cover crop management, strip-tillage and tractor fuel saving tips. A walking field tour of corn planted into fall 2010 aerial-seeded winter rye will begin at 1:00 p.m. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

The cover crop management discussion will include yield response of corn and soybeans following fall-seeded winter rye and other cereal grain cover crops, nitrogen fertilizer needs of corn planted after fall-seeded winter rye, planter set-up for planting into cover crop residue, and soil quality improvements related to cover crop use. Attendees will be able to discuss cover crop and strip-tillage management with ISU and PFI experts, along with local farmer Jeff Joyce.

The field day location is known locally as the Barringer farm at 3650 360th Street; the site is one mile east of Ruthven on the south side of Hwy 18. For questions about the event, contact Paul Kassel at (712) 262-2264, or by email at [email protected].

Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa Learning Farms have formed a cover crop management working group with 10 farmer cooperators across the state, demonstrating corn and soybean yield response to fall-seeded cereal grain cover crops fall-seeded before or after combine harvest of the previous crop.

JUNE 21 FIELD DAY:  Iowa Learning Farms and Key Cooperative will co-sponsor a strip-tillage field day at the Mike Hermanson farm and at the Key Co-op's strip-till plots in northern Story County on Tuesday, June 21, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The field day will include a complimentary lunch and information about the conservation strip-tillage practice. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Strip-tillage marries the best aspects of conventional tillage with the benefits of no-till. 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. In the spring, corn or soybeans are planted into the tilled soil strips, which warm and dry faster than the rest of the field, making this system ideal for some Iowa soil types. Landowners and farmers should see better water infiltration, improved soil structure, and potential for reduced fuel, machinery and other crop input costs with the implementation of strip-tillage.

Mike Hermanson completed his strip-tillage last fall and will have strip-till implements at the field day site. The field day will begin at Hermanson's strip-tilled field, located one and one-half miles west of Roland on county road E-18 on the north side of the road, just west of the turkey buildings. The field day will then move to the Key Co-op strip-tilled plots. These are located two miles east of Roland on E-18 and then one-half mile south on county road S14 (620th St). Lunch will be at the Key Co-op site, sponsored by Monsanto.

JUNE 22 FIELD DAY: ILF will sponsor a strip-tillage management field day with ISU Extension field agronomist Virgil Schmitt and ILF farmer-partner Doug Nolte in Muscatine County on Wednesday, June 22, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The field day will include a complimentary noon hour meal and discussion about strip-tillage crop management. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Attendees will be able to view the Conservation Station, a portable rainfall simulator demonstrating the effects of rainfall on different soil surface scenarios. Also, ISU Extension ag engineer Mark Hanna will discuss tractor fuel saving tips. Attendees will be able to discuss strip-till management with Nolte and ISU experts. Since 2008, Nolte has used strip-tillage in spring before planting corn.

The field day location is 1021 Hwy 6, West Liberty; the site is one-quarter mile east of the Johnson-Muscatine County border on the north side of Highway 6. For questions about the event, contact Muscatine-based ISU Extension Field Agronomist Virgil Schmitt at (563) 263-5701, or email at [email protected].

JUNE 23 WETLANDS TOUR:  Iowa Learning Farms and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) are hosting a bus tour of Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program wetlands in Dallas County on Thursday, June 23, from 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Registered attendees can park and meet the motor coach at the Dallas Center-Grimes High School, where the bus will depart from and return to at the end of the tour. The tour is free and is limited to 40 pre-registered participants. To register, phone 515-294-5429, or email: [email protected].

The tour will include stops at two sites—one site being readied for CREP wetland construction, and another site where CREP wetland restoration is complete. Tour participants are encouraged to bring their hiking boots or waders for an up-close look at these structures. Matt Lechtenberg and Shawn Richmond, CREP specialists with IDALS, Iowa State University Extension water quality engineer Matt Helmers, and farmer-landowners who have installed CREP wetlands will lead the tour and talk about the benefits, installation and financial incentives for these structures. 

There are 37 counties in north-central Iowa eligible for enrollment in CREP. Research at Iowa State University has demonstrated that strategically sited and designed wetlands can remove 40% to 90% of nitrates and over 70% of herbicides from cropland drainage waters. These areas are as beautiful as they are functional. Tour participants are welcome to bring their hiking boots or waders to see these structures up close.

JUNE 15 WEBINAR:  You are encouraged to tune-in to ILF's monthly webinar on June 15. This month's webcast will focus on contaminants in surface water & groundwater systems. ILF holds an online webinar each month.

The ILF's June 2011 webinar, to be held Wednesday, June 15 at 12 noon, will feature Michelle Soupir, who will talk about the "fate and transport of pathogens from agricultural landscapes." The webinar is part of a series, hosted by ILF, held on the third Wednesday of each month. The webinars will be held over the noon hour through Adobe Connect. All that is needed for you to participate is a computer with Internet access.

Michelle Soupir is an Iowa State University Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering assistant professor. Her research includes nonpoint source pollution control, watershed management and water quality monitoring. She studies the occurrence, fate and transport of pathogens and contaminants such as antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria to surface water and ground water systems. She will be able to answer questions from webinar "attendees" via the Adobe Connect chat box.

To connect to the webinars, go to: https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/ The ILF website homepage contains links for archived webinars from previous months: www.extension.iastate.edu/ilf. Please contact ILF with other topic ideas for future webinar sessions.

Iowa Learning Farms is a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources and US EPA (section 319); in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa and the Iowa Farm Bureau.

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