Mahdi M. Al-Kaisi, Faculty, Department of Agronomy
High grain prices have increased the practice of using corn stover for animal feed and bedding. The growing interest in cellulosic ethanol production using corn stover has also created a need for information on the environmental impacts of this practice. There is a considerable need for understanding the value of crop residue in improving soil quality, the proper methods of managing residue to maximize its benefits for soil and water quality, and the management and processes by which that residue can enhance soil and water quality.
The main goal of this program is to train agriculture professionals and provide resource materials that can be used in their education and outreach programs to develop consistent message for managing crop residue by farmers, farm managers and the bioenergy industry.
A Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) professional development grant was obtained to create an educational program focusing on training and educating professionals from NRCS, SWCD commissioners, and agriculture industry professionals on current residue management research and practices.
The two-year training program consists of roundtable discussions in year one and workshops in year two, one in each of 5 regions in the state of Iowa. The project started in the summer of 2008 by conducting a series of roundtable discussions as a first phase. Using the information collected during the roundtable discussions, field training events will be conducted in year two to address the issues and needs in each region.
Three of five regional roundtables have been conducted during the summer of 2008. Participants from NRCS, Iowa State University Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners, and other agriculture professionals participated in these roundtable discussions. Presentations addressing the environmental benefits of residue to soil quality and water quality, along with proper methods of residue management and challenges of using residue for future potential use in cellulosic ethanol production. After each presentation, a roundtable discussion was held and a short survey was conducted to assess the immediate impact of the information presented and future training needs.
Ninety percent of the participants that responded to the survey indicated that the information provided would help them train or advise their clients on residue management practices. Participants rated their clients’ knowledge on residue management 2.7, on a 1-5 scale.
Participants rated their clients’ awareness of the link between residue management and soil quality at 1.9 on a 1-5 scale. Approximately 40% of roundtable participants indicated that they did not have the necessary resources to train and advise their clients before the roundtable discussion. After the presentation and roundtable discussion, the information and the resources provided will be used in advising and training their clients on residue management. Generally, there was a positive response and commitment to the program along with additional suggestions and feedback to conduct next year training. The participants average and below average ratings of their clients’ residue management knowledge further support the need for residue management training and resource development in year two of this project.
100 Corn and Soybean Production
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August 29, 2008
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