Tune-in to Iowa Learning Farms webinar on soil health

Tune-in to Iowa Learning Farms webinar on soil health

Session July 22 will focus on how you can improve soil productivity and environmental quality too.

The regular monthly Iowa Learning Farms webinar for July will be held Wednesday, July 22, at 1 p.m. This month's presenter is Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Iowa State University professor of agronomy and ISU Extension soil management specialist. His presentation will discuss the concept of soil health, its basic principles, and the factors needed for healthy soil, and management choices farmers make that affect their soil's health.

PROTECT WATER QAULITY: Research has shown that cover crops can reduce nitrogen loss and phosphorus losses by approximately 30%. A bioreactor, one of the recommended edge-of-field practices, can reduce nitrogen by approximately 40%.

Al-Kaisi is a professor of soil management and environment in the agronomy department at ISU. His research focuses on the effects of cropping systems, tillage systems, and crop residue management on soil health, soil carbon dynamics and greenhouse gas emission. Also, he studies the interaction effects of agricultural practices and environmental factors (i.e., climate change) on agriculture systems sustainability and productivity. His research and Extension activities focus on developing sustainable management practices that improve productivity and environmental quality. 

Practices that improve soil productivity and environmental quality
The ILF webinars are usually held on the third Wednesday of each month at 1 p.m., although this month it is on the fourth Wednesday. They are free and all that is needed to participate is a computer with Internet access. To participate, 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 Al-Kaisi by typing their questions through the chat function. The webinar will be recorded and archived on the ILF website for viewing at any time. All past webinars are archived on the ILF website extension.iastate.edu/ilf/Webinars/.

Since January 2011, ILF has hosted a webinar every month. There are over 50 webinars to view on a wide range of topics including soil erosion, cover crops, buffers, bioreactors, and farmer perspectives. The webinar archives are also available in podcast through iTunes.

Hosting July 23 field day on bioreactors, cover crops and more
In other news this week regarding Iowa Learning Farms, the ILF along with Monroe County Soil and Water Conservation District and Iowa Soybean Association, will host a field day on Thursday, July 23 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Tom Dykstra farm, of rural Eddyville, in southeast Iowa.

Linda Shumate, Monroe County watershed coordinator, is working with farmer Tom Dykstra to receive cost-share funding to install a denitrification bioreactor on his land.  Shumate and Dykstra will share their experience and answer questions about installing the bioreactor. Dykstra has been farming full-time for 10 years, raising corn and soybeans as well as grazing his cattle herd. He uses no-till and cover crops including radishes, turnips, winter rye and winter wheat.

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Learn about water quality benefits of bioreactors, other practices
Keegan Kult, Iowa Soybean Association environmental programs manager, will talk about the water quality benefits of a bioreactor and research results from their bioreactors installed across the state. Iowa State University Extension water quality engineer Matt Helmers will demonstrate the Conservation Station's rainfall simulator, which shows the effects of rainfall on different surfaces and subsurface drainage including conventional tillage, no-till and cover crops. Following the field day, attendees can enjoy a complimentary lunch.

The field day will be at the Tom Dykstra farm: 1383 735th Ave., Eddyville. Take exit 53 off of Highway 63, just south of Eddyville. Go west on Highway 137, crossing the Des Moines River; turn south on Monroe Wapello Road (T59) just past the river. Go three miles, turn west onto 140th St., and go one mile. Turn north onto 735th St. for approximately a quarter-mile. The field day site will be on the west side of the road.

The field day is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is recommended. For more information phone 515-294-8912, or email [email protected].

Cover crops important part of Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
As part of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, cover crops added to a corn-soybean rotation reduces soil erosion, reduces nitrogen and phosphorus loads, and increases soil organic matter. Research has shown that cover crops can reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses by approximately 30%. A bioreactor, one of the recommended edge-of-field practices, can reduce nitrogen by approximately 40%. These best management practices will reduce point and nonpoint source pollution significantly in Iowa waters and downstream. For more information about ILF, visit extension.iastate.edu/ilf/.

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working 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, ISU 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 information about ILF visit extension.iastate.edu/ilf.

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