Farmers attending this year's Iowa Power Farming Show in Des Moines February 3 to 5 can learn how other Midwest farmers are making decisions that improve the health of their soil, along with yields, profits and environmental outcomes.
An educational program "Building Farmer Wealth with Soil Health" will focus on what "soil health" means, practically, when farmers make decisions about soil sampling, fertilizer application and rates, reduced tillage, tiling and cover crops, says program manager Dan Zinkand.
"While farmers can't control crop prices, they can decide how to improve soil organic matter, water infiltration and drainage — which influence how soon they can get in to plant in the spring — as well as how they sample their soil and when and how they fertilize crops," says Zinkand. "They can also decide whether to try cover crops, a practice that's vital to soil health in a corn-soybean rotation. These decisions not only improve yields and profitability, but also enhance environmental performance."
Learn why and how to build healthy soils on your farm
One-hour sessions in the "Building Farmer Wealth with Soil Health" workshop will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, February 3 and Wednesday, February 4 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, February 5 in Hy-Vee Hall, Rooms 107-108.
Farmers and scientists with years of experience will explain why and how to build healthy soils—those with high organic matter, high microbial activity, stable structure, high water infiltration rates and other characteristics that produce higher yields long term. Regardless of how healthy or alive your soil is right now, cover crops can play a vital role in ensuring your soil provides a strong foundation for your farming system. While the most common reasons for including cover crops in a farming system may relate to the immediate short-term need, the continued practice of cover cropping becomes an investment in building healthy soil over the long term.
Topics at these seminars at the Iowa Power Farming Show include bringing dead soils back to life; using the Haney soil test to measure life in the soil; practical tools to use in building soil health; sophisticated soil sampling that leads to better fertilizer decisions; and reasons for inter-seeding cover crops into standing corn and soybeans. Event sponsors will have exhibits in Hy-Vee Hall and there will be ample opportunities to talk with the speakers, sponsors and exhibitors during the three-day event.
Using cover crops to improve soil health and water quality
Major sponsors for this year's program include forage and cover crops seed producer Saddle Butte Ag, which has dealers in Iowa and other Midwestern states; Kimberley Ag Consulting, a firm known for its decades of corn meter calibration expertise, as well as on-farm consulting for plantability and fertilizer application; KB Seed Solutions, a supplier of cover crops seeds with dealers across the Corn Belt; and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, which offers programs to increase the use of cover crops and other practices that improve soil health and water quality. Also sponsoring is Soil Investigative Services.
Attendance for "Building Farmer Wealth with Soil Health" is free with paid admission to the 2015 Iowa Power Farming Show. To pre-register for the Iowa Power Farming Show and get a discount on admission, check its website.