(download in pdf format)
Understanding Planning and Zoning:
Acreage Living/Acreage Answers Combine
County Conservation Boards
Sickle Bar Mower Safety
Iowa One Call
Annual White Grub Control
Safe from the Storm?
Planning and Zoning: Part Il
By Terry Finnerty, ISU Extension Field Specialist Commercial
Planning and zoning issues are a part of our heritage:
Native Americans encroached on Native Americans; Europeans
encroached upon Native Americans; farmers and ranchers
encroached on each other; and urbanites are encroaching
on farmers. For better or worse, this is part of our
changing society. Fortunately, how these issues are
resolved has also changed. Laws, comprehensive plans,
and zoning ordinances developed by law makers and local
planning commissions have replaced weapons, soldiers,
and lawmen for making land-use decisions.
Our federal and state constitutions guarantee the
right to own property, and form the basis for land use
decisions. However, we also operate under the real property
system of English common law which treats property ownership
as a “complex set of relationships and issues”
that determine exactly what people can do with their
For example, perhaps you moved to the country to escape
the environment of the city, only to discover the annoying
odors and slower traffic that are part of the Iowa’s
nonindustrial, noncommercial, rural environment.
Now you want restrictions on agricultural activity
in your area. Maybe you are the farmer or rural enterprise
threatened by the proposed changes in zoning laws that
your new neighbor is requesting. These are among the
“complex set of relationships and issues”
that determine exactly what people can do with our property,
and that planning commissions must consider when making
land use decisions.
How planning commissions operate, and the decisions
they make will be explained in the next issue of “Acreage
For more information:
Iowa State University Land Use Series: Rights in Property
Regulation: Tradition and Tensions in a Changing World,”
Answers & Acreage Living Combine
By Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension FS/Ag Engineering and
ISU Extension Dallas County CEED
For several years, ISU Extension has been publishing
two newsletters for acreage owners and rural residents.
Acreage Answers and Acreage Living
included similar information and were used by people
with similar needs. In order to provide you, the reader,
with a single stop for acreage information, we have
combined these two newsletters.
The five-page newsletter will be published bimonthly
with an expanded group of authors. County ISU Extension
offices will have the option of adding a sixth page
with local information and events. The Acreage Living
web site will continue with links to back issues of
both parent newsletters and increasing links to other
information of interest to acreage dwellers.
We hope you enjoy this expanded resource. Our goal
is to provide you with the most convenient access to
timely and useful information. If you have any suggestions,
please contact any of the editors listed on the cover
Bar Mower Safety
By Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension FS/Ag Engineering
Sickle bar mowers offer fast and efficient cutting
of tall vegetation. However, by design, these mowers
present some unique safety hazards. Walk-behind mowers
generally have a mounted engine for power. Tractor mounted
mowers are almost always powered by a PTO (power takeoff)
shaft carrying power from the tractor to the mower.
Keep the tractor’s master shield and the machine’s
PTO shield in place and in good operating condition.
The PTO shaft shield should spin freely when the machine
is not operating.
Older mowers may have unguarded power takeoff shafts
with little or no shielding of other rotating or moving
parts. Lessen your chances of becoming caught by exposed
shafts by making sure you don’t step next to a
rotating shaft to get on or off the tractor. Better
yet, guard it! Cutter bar accidents usually involve
severe lacerations or amputations, particularly to the
fingers and toes. These accidents happen when the cutter
bar plugs up in the field or during maintenance or servicing.
To safely unplug the cutter bar, follow these steps:
stop and disengage the PTO, raise the cutter bar and
back up a few feet. Shut off the tractor and shift into
park or set the brakes, then pull hay away from the
cutter bar with gloved hands. Check the cutter bar for
broken guards or knife sections, start the engine and
engage the PTO at low speed, lower the cutter bar, ease
mower into standing hay and resume operation. If a knife
section has to be replaced, handle the blade bar only
from the rear side. If you can remove the sickle bar
by yourself, do so. Numerous injuries have occurred
when two people did not adequately coordinate their
The process for safely unplugging a walk-behind mower
is similar. Disengage the mower, back up, and turn off
the engine before carefully removing the plugged vegetation.
Wear leather gloves and always handle the cutter bar
from the back side.
Sickle bar cutters also pose a serious threat to hidden
people, pets and wildlife. Make certain all people are
clear of the area to be mowed and restrain pets so they
cannot enter the area during mowing.
As with any tractor operation, NEVER carry any extra
riders. If your tractor is equipped with a roll-over
protective structure (ROPS), be certain to wear your
seat belt. If your tractor does not have ROPS, consider
using a different tractor or check with your local equipment
dealer about a ROPS kit for your tractor.
By Steve Lekwa, Story County Conservation Director
Iowa counties have conservation boards (CCB’s).
Section 350 of the Iowa Code provides for a broad range
of services conservation boards can County Conservation
Director provide, but most activities fall into three
areas: outdoor recreation, natural resource management,
CCB’s manage more than 1,600 public areas totaling
nearly 160,000 acres. 343 of those areas offer camping,
and 387 have drinking water on site. Many offer trails
for hiking, biking, and even equestrian use. 313 areas
have lake access for fishing and boating, and another
628 offer river and stream access. 835 areas support
public hunting. CCB’s maintain 143 historic sites,
and operate 49 nature centers.
CCB’s offer naturalist led programs for schools
and the public throughout the year. Many assist private
landowners in improving wildlife habitat. Many care
for high quality nature preserves including 410 remnant
prairie areas. Other activities include maintenance
of county roadside vegetation, (County Conservation
Boards continued) operation of golf courses, winter
sports areas, and swimming beaches.
All county conservation areas are listed in the Outdoor
Adventure Guide with location and facility information,
and a detailed road map for each county. The guide is
available for $4 from local county conservation offices.
For more information, visit the web site of the Iowa
Association of County Conservation Boards, http://www.ecity.net/iaccb
to “call before you dig”
By Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Ag
you go about your summer home and land improvement projects,
remember to “call before you dig.” Iowa
law requires that underground utilities be located before
any excavation deeper than 15 inches. But don’t
worry about the details, one toll-free phone call from
you is all it takes. Call Iowa One Call at 1-800-292-8989
and all utility companies will be notified for you.
Water Reduces Water Demands from Garden
By Mary Ann deVries, ISU Polk County Extension Horticulturist
a record-wet period, it’s hard to think about
dry times in the garden. And, yet it’s possible
that by August we’ll be in the middle of another
drought and back to thinking about how to conserve water.
Here’s some good rainy-day advice:
Collecting and using rainwater is easy when barrels
are placed under downspouts. In fact, garden supply
companies offer easy-to-use collecting barrels in the
range of 50-75 gallons. These can be connected together
and fitted with an overflow hose to divert water from
the house when barrels are full. Be sure to use secure
covers for safety.
Harvesting water from the house can also extend water
resources on the farm. Put a garden watering can in
the kitchen to use when emptying day-old water from
a tea kettle, pet bowl, drinking glasses, or even unfinished
bottles of water. You’ll be surprised at how quickly
this adds up.
water left after boiling vegetables or pasta to cool
and then pour it in the garden. Also, a bucket placed
in the corner of your shower stall will gather unused
During dry times, these activities can reduce pressure
on your domestic well while helping to keep your landscape
plants alive. For more information on using gray water,
check out this website: http://interests.caes.uga.edu/drought/articles/gwlands.htm
White Grub Control
By Donald Lewis , ISU Extension Entomology
white grubs that routinely damage lawns and turfgrass
in Iowa are the annual white grubs. These grubs take
just one year to complete each life cycle of egg - larva
- pupa - adult. The adult beetles of our annual white
grubs are called masked chafers. They are slightly smaller
than Junebugs and tan or straw brown in color. As the
name implies, they have a black stripe across the eyes
and face. The masked chafers fly and lay eggs for most
of the month of July.
The eggs hatch in two to three weeks meaning early
to mid-August is the earliest the white grub larvae
will be in the soil to begin feeding on grass roots.
The damage symptoms that grass plants express because
of the root feeding going on in the soil usually do
not appear until late August, September, or October.
Early symptoms include wilting and tan discoloration.
Later symptoms can vary from small discolored patches
to large, irregular dead areas. It normally takes at
least ten annual white grubs per square foot to cause
damage to healthy, vigorous (i.e, watered) turfgrass;
fewer if grass is non-irrigated and under stress.
It is possible to check turfgrass for white grub damage
before it becomes severe and noticeable. First, check
your records or memory for the location of damage in
previous years. Then consider areas where masked chafers
are most frequently seen such as along sidewalks, driveways,
and streets and at the outside edge of the light thrown
by a street light or yard light. Beginning in mid August,
look for grubs in the soil in these areas by slicing
a square from the turf with a knife or spade and pulling
it up. Grubinfested turf will pull up easily and the
white, C-shaped larvae will be between the plant crown
and the soil.
Several insecticides are available for white grub
control. All must be carefully applied according to
label directions and thoroughly watered in. Liquid insecticide
sprays for white grubs must be watered in immediately
before the spray can dry on the grass. Within 30 minutes,
less if it a hot, dry day, water the sprayed area with
at least 1/2 inch of irrigation. It may help if sprays
can be applied to dampened turf (either wet with dew
or lightly sprinkled before spraying). Granule insecticides
must also be watered in to be effective against grubs,
but the demand for immediate irrigation is lessened.
The insecticides labeled for white grubs in turfgrass
include — for homeowners: diazinon, trichlorfon
(Dylox and Proxol) Sevin and Oftanol; for commercial
applicators: homeowner products plus Turcam, Triumph,
Mocap and Crusade. There are several restrictions with
each product, so read and follow label directions very
from the Storm?
By Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Ag
Recent deadly tornadoes have renewed our awareness
of the devastating power of high winds. The Federal
Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross,
and the National Weather Service offer this advice for
Before the storm:
- Have a tornado plan so everyone knows where to go
and what to do
- Educate family members on the meanings of tornado
watches and warnings
- Assemble a tornado emergency kit with a radio,
batteries, flashlight, and first aid supplies
When a tornado watch is issued:
- Monitor radio or television broadcasts for weather
- Watch weather conditions for warning signs like
sudden wind changes, flying debris, or tornado sounds
- Listen for weather alert sirens if your community
When a tornado WARNING is issued or a tornado approaches:
- If you are inside, move immediately to a basement,
cellar, or lowest level of the building
- If there is no basement, move to a small interior
room like a closet or bathroom
- Stay away from windows
- If possible, get under a sturdy piece of furniture
like a work bench or heavy table
- If you are outside, seek shelter inside, or lie
down in a low or protected area
- If you are in a car or mobile home, get out and
seek shelter in a building or low, protected area.
A few tornado myths are worth mention.
Myth: I can drive away from a tornado to safety. Fact:
Tornadoes often change direction and travel rapidly.
You are safer to get out of your car and seek shelter
in a basement, building, or protected area.
Myth: I should open house windows to equalize pressure
as a tornado passes. Fact: Strong winds and flying debris
cause most structural damage to buildings, not unequal
pressure. You are safer to stay away from windows and
seek shelter immediately.
Myth: The safest location in the home or basement
is the southwest corner. Fact: The side of the home
facing the approaching tornado is the most dangerous.
Always seek interior rooms with no windows and get under
heavy furniture or stairs, if possible.
For more information on tornado and storm safety,
visit these web sites: