Mahdi M. Al-Kaisi, Faculty, Department of Agronomy
The use of corn stover for animal feed and bedding in addition to the growing interest in cellulosic ethanol production using corn stover has created a need for information on the environmental impacts of residue removal. There is a considerable need for understanding the value of crop residue in improving soil and water 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 these qualities quality. This is two years project funded by SARE-USDA to provide training to agriculture professionals in residue management in Iowa and the Midwest.
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 a 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 including NRCS staff, 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. During the period of July 2008 to June 30, 2009, four workshops were conducted across the state. The workshops included PowerPoint presentations, group discussions, and field days and hands on training. Using the information collected during the roundtable discussions in 2008, field training events were conducted and surveys used to assess the short-term impact of the training.
Five regional workshops and roundtables were conducted during July through September of 2008 and two of five workshop trainings scheduled for 2009 were conducted in June 2009. Participants from NRCS, Iowa State University Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners, and other agriculture professionals participated in these roundtable discussions. Presentations were given addressing the environmental benefits of residue to soil and water quality, along with proper methods of residue management and challenges of using residue for future potential use in cellulosic ethanol production. There were also presentations addressing the benefits and challenges of cover crops, and the economics of residue management and soil loss. 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.
The participants who responded to the survey indicated that the information provided would help them train or advise their clients on residue management practices. Eighteen to 24% of the respondents stated that their knowledge of the residue information and basic knowledge of residue’s role in improving soil and water quality after the training was “Excellent” to “Good”, compared to the rating given before the training of “Fair” to “Good”.
Participants indicated that the average number of clients they serve was between 50 and 100. Approximately 51% 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 resources provided will be used in advising and training their clients on residue management. Participants indicate that the number of acres they will cover in their work with farmers range from 400 to 40,000 acres. Thirty five percent of the participants stated that the information provided was excellent, 47% said it was good, and 18% said it was fair. In response to the question of how well the training met their needs, 18% responded “Excellent”, 71% “Good”, and 6% “fair”. On the relevance and effectiveness of training, 35% stated that it was excellent, 59% that it was good, and 6% that it was fair.
100 Corn and Soybean Production
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