No-Till Advantage Field Day Goes Multi-County

Dan Burkhart, Fayette County Extension Education Director, Northeast Area
                             
Situation:

As corn and soybean prices have increased, so have input costs. Current improvement in profit margins will probably be temporary. The advantages of using no-till systems were present even before increased bio-fuel usage caused crop prices to increase. They are just as significant now. Savings in energy costs, machinery cost, labor requirements and, of course, the conservation of soil and its productivity have been and continue to be the basis for the advantages of no-till systems.  Iowa State University Extension/Fayette County has been a major part of a cooperative planning and educational effort with the Fayette Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resource Conservation Service for many years.

Extension Response:

Three years ago, the planning team created the first No-Till Advantage Field Day. The host farmers no-till planter was displayed and speakers included ISU Extension Specialists, NRCS staff and the host farmer. Over 100 people attended the first event. Comments were positive and planning continued for a second field day in 2006. Because of the location of the 2006 event near Oelwein, it also attracted attendees from Buchanan and Black Hawk County. Because the 2007 event was located in the corners of Fayette, Winneshiek, Allamakee and Clayton Counties, it created the opportunity for a multi-county event. Soil and Water Conservation Districts and NRCS offices in these counties were invited to participate. The event attracted over 140 people from 11 counties. Program planning and financial support was primarily provided by the 3 cooperating agencies in Fayette County plus several financial sponsors. Recruitment was done by all 4 counties.

Impact: 

Fayette County Extension, S&W District and NRCS have seen positive changes in no-till system usage over many years as a result of working together on joint educational programming. As a result of no-till system programming in the last 3 years the percentage of land in Fayette County using no-till systems has increased to an all time high. No-till corn is 29 % of all corn acres planted. No-till soybeans are 37% of all soybeans planted. It is the highest percentage of no-till acres in NE Iowa. Just as important an impact of this years event is the positive response from the 3 other Soil and Water Conservation Districts and NRCS staff. None of those counties had ever held similar no-till events. Staff were all asking questions on how to organize another or how to organize their own no-till event for 2008, even before the No-Till Advantage Field Day was over. Adoption of no-till systems saves at least $19/acre in energy, labor and machinery costs. Savings from using no-till systems in Fayette County in 2007 can be estimated at  $19/acre on 97,531 acres. This total saved by farmers using no-till systems versus conventional tillage systems come out to over 1 million 853 thousand dollars.  Long-term savings due to lower soil losses and maintained soil productivity are priceless.

2007

100  Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
160  Natural Resources and Stewardship
 

Page last updated: September 28, 2007
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu