Cover Crop Management, Soil Health, Threats To Bees

Cover Crop Management, Soil Health, Threats To Bees

Answers to questions about cover cropping, improving soil health and protecting pollinators are hot topics in this month's Leopold Letter.

Here's the listing of topics and articles in the February 2014 newsletter published and available online from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU.

New Grants: The Leopold Center has awarded grants to 24 new research and demonstration projects that will start work this year. Topics range from soil health to food hubs, falling under all four of the Center's research initiatives : Ecology, Marketing and Food Systems, Policy and Cross-Cutting. The new grants total $731,817. Links and details about each project are available at the Leopold Center website.

COVER CROPS AND MORE: February edition of the Leopold Letter, published by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, has information you can take to the field and use.

Completed Grants - What We Learned:  A summary of results from five recently completed research and demonstration projects are now available for these grants at the center's website.
• Impacts of conventional and diversified rotation systems
• Sustainable Agricultural Land Tenure (SALT) Initiative II
• Evaluating the impact of a decade of regional food system work in northeast Iowa
• Increasing access to healthy, fresh and local food to students in three rural public schools in northeast Iowa
• Improving soil quality by conserving insect pathogens

An 'Inconvenient' Landscape: Leopold Center Director Mark Rasmussen laments the many changes to his home landscape of eastern Nebraska, and what happens when soil-saving practices give way to new land uses. You'll want to read his essay, plus other profiles and research updates, in our winter issue of The Leopold Letter newsletter.

Thinking About A Cover Crop? Start With Developing A Plan
Taking time to design your cover crop plan will increase the successful establishment of the crop and potentially allow for improved staggering of fall harvest.

Passenger Pigeon 100 Years Later: Aldo Leopold wrote one of his most moving essays about extinction for dedication of a monument to the passenger pigeon at a Wisconsin state park. One-hundred years after the last bird's death, the Leopold Center is sponsoring a lecture by Stan Temple, senior fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation, on Thursday March 6. He will talk about what we can learn from the extinction of this once-prolific species. Details here.

Soil Guru: The Leopold Center is bringing another national expert and innovative speaker to Iowa in April. USDA agronomist Ray Archuleta will present the 2014 Shivvers Lecture "Soil Health and Sustainability" on Tuesday, April 1 in the Sun Room of the ISU Memorial Union. He'll also present a lecture in Cedar Falls. More information available here.   

It's Your Business: Online registration addition is now open for the Iowa Local Food Conference on Tuesday, April 8 in Ames. Theme is "It's Your Business! Expanding Opportunities in the Iowa Food System." You'll want to hear our keynote speaker, the social marketing genius behind LoLa's Chicks. Find out how to register here.

Nationwide Seminar - Cover Crops: The USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, or SARE, program is hosting a free, live broadcast on Feb. 18, Cover Crops and Soil Health. More than 200 forums will take place nationwide to discuss how cover cropping can build soil health, improve yields, curb erosion, manage pests and build resilience into a farming system. Find out how to register (it's free) and where to attend at the SARE website.   

Pollinators: A new research report shows that spring planting is a dangerous time for pollinators that feed on the pollen of flowers containing residues of neonicotinoid pesticides, commonly used to coat corn seed to fend off pests during the early stages of the corn's development. The preliminary report recommends farmers use drift-reducing lubricants and beekeepers provide supplemental food during this time.

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