Strip tillage and cover crop programs in 2010

Name and Position/Title: 
John Holmes, Extension Field Agronomist

Fiscal Year Submitted: 

POW Title and Number: 
160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

Strip tillage and cover crop programs in 2010

Soil erosion and nutrient losses from farm fields continues to be a problem in row crop farming in central Iowa.  Sediment in lakes, streams, and rivers has degraded water quality.  Nitrogen loss from soil has greatly contributed to increased nitrogen levels in the waters of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.  The Boone River Watershed group has worked to improve water quality within the Boone River Watershed. 

What Did You Do? (Outputs – these may include educational meetings, demonstrations or research, media, facilitating, partnering)
Arlo VanDiest from Webster City has been an active member of the Boone River Watershed group for the past several years.  In February, 2010, he and John Holmes, Extension Field Agronomist, attended the ISU Extension Watershed Leadership Retreat at Iowa State University.  Arlo VanDiest hosted a strip tillage tour on his farm on June 10.  Approximately 100 local farmers attended.  Farmers viewed crops grown using strip tillage methods.  They also had an opportunity to see a bio-reactor that was installed in 2009.

Two cover crop field days were conducted in 2010.  On July 27 cover crop management was explained at one of the sessions of the water quality field day on the Smeltzer Trust Learning Farm near Fort Dodge.  An aerial seeding demonstration was conducted during the field day.  The Boone River Watershed Group hosted a cover crop field day on the Larry Heron farm near Webster City on September 14.  Cover crop management was discussed during the field day.  Aerial seeding of cover crops and seeding of cover crops using a high clearance sprayer were demonstrated.  

Results (Outcomes – was there a increase in knowledge, new skills learned, new decisions made, new practices implemented, increased profitability, new standards, enhanced quality of life)
One hundred persons attended the Arlo VanDiest strip tillage field day.  Their knowledge of strip tillage methods increased.  Participants at the water quality field day on the Smeltzer Learning Farm and at the VanDiest field day saw a bio-reactor and learned how it decreased nitrogen loading of water.  Participants at the cover crop field day learned how cover crops cycle nutrients and keep nitrogen from leaving the field.  They also had an opportunity to learn about cover crop seeding methods and see them demonstrated.  Their understanding of cover crop management was increased. 

By cooperating with the Iowa Soybean Association, the NRCS, and the Boone River Watershed Group, ISU Extension staff has been able to encourage farming methods that improve water quality. 

Page last updated: June 22, 2011
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