Corn/ Soybean Initiative On-Farm Research North Central Iowa Research Association (NCIRA) Annual Meeting

George Cummins, John Holmes and Paul Kassel, Extension Field Agronomists; and Jim Hill, Hancock County CEED; NE, NW and Central Areas


The Northern Research Farm (NRF) was established in 1931, the first and oldest of ISU’s outlying research farms. The farm is representative of crop growing conditions found in the northern counties of the Clarion- Nicollet- Webster soil association. The NRF has some unique drainage and pH conditions; a shorter growing season; and some unique pest pressures (i.e. soybean cyst nematode) that are not found on other ISU research farms.

 In planning for the farm’s 75th Anniversary in 2006, the association executive board noted that the future of the association and the research farm itself was dependent on a strong membership aware of and involved in the research farm’s events and activities.   Interest in and attendance at the association’s annual meetings held in church basements in Kanawha was slipping (35-50 people total including speakers and ISU Extension and Outlying Research Farm staff). Various strategies were identified to increase participation and support for the NRF and the NCIRA.


Contacts were made with the management of Gold Eagle, MaxYield and North Central, three large cooperatives serving the association area. Each pledged $1000/ year for 5 years to support the NRF and NCIRA activities. Farm Credit Services, First State Bank and Farmers Trust and Savings Bank agreed to provide refreshments for various activities. Larger, handicapped- accessible facilities were identified with the idea of holding the annual meeting in a different part of the association area each year. In 2008, the annual meeting was held at the Heritage Museum in Clarion. In 2009 the annual meeting was held in the Britt Municipal Building.

The educational program at the annual meeting was expanded. State specialists were encouraged to base their presentations/ recommendations on North Central Iowa conditions and local research findings. In 2009 topics and presenters included: “Do Narrow Soybean Rows Work in Northern Iowa?” (Palle Pedersen); “Nitrogen Management in North Iowa/ Southern Minnesota” (Gyles Randall); “Managing High Crop Input Costs” (Mike Duffy) and “Managing Weather Risk in 2009” (Elwynn Taylor).  The NCIRA business meeting was held between educational presentations so that NCIRA leadership could be introduced, the research farm annual report distributed and current research projects identified, and a survey conducted to identify and prioritize future research projects.

ISU Extension Field Staff were very visible helping with registration; as information providers; as the master of ceremonies and with general program coordination and implementation.


Annual meeting attendance increased to 96 in 2008 and 134 in 2009. The 2009 total included attendees from 14 Iowa and 3 Minnesota counties. Students and faculty from NIACC in Mason City and the advanced crops class from Forest City attended.

All director positions on the Executive Board are filled. The vice-president elected at the meeting is a young farmer who came on the Board in 2008 to fill the unexpired term of a Director who dropped out to run for political office. The next generation is becoming involved in the NCIRA leadership.

Five new memberships have been sold. 

Jean Simmet, a writer for Agri-news, the agricultural newspaper with readership in the Tri-state area attended and will submit feature articles from the educational presentations expanding the educational impact of the annual meeting.

Topics of special interest identified for future research projects and field day topics include:

a.      Tillage practices which maximize yields and profitability while protecting the soil.

b.      Soybean seed treatments in high pH soils

c.      Maximizing corn yields and profitability

d.      A comparison of soybean varieties with special traits

e.      New aphid management strategies

f.      Joint projects between NRF at Kanawha and the Southern Research Station at Waseca, Minnesota on topics of common interest.

ISU Extension worked closely with the association leadership and the farm superintendent in organizing, publicizing and conducting the annual meeting program. The annual meeting exemplifies the excellent working relationship that exists between Iowa State Extension and the NCIRA leadership; the working relationship across state lines between Minnesota and Iowa Extension; and the cooperative relationship that exists between ISU and the agri-businesses and dealerships which service our area.

George Guenther, long-time NCIRA director said, “This is the best annual meeting we’ve ever had. It will be hard to do as well next year, let alone improve on.”


100 – Corn and Soybean Production and Protection

Page last updated: April 6, 2009
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