Southwest Iowa No Till Field

Clarke McGrath, crop specialist

Many of the fields in southwest Iowa are HEL (Highly Erodible Lands). Conservation tillage, minimum tillage and strip tillage are marginally effective soil conservation cropping systems, however many of our fields are no-tilled, and many more need to be converted to no till systems. Several issues face growers who adopt no till as their cropping system, and these issues deter some growers from fully utilizing the no till systems. A field day was held near Randolph in early April to share ideas and research based information on how to meet some of these challenges. My task was to address no till nutrient management, with an emphasis on nitrogen (N) management and secondarily, lime, phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) management in no till systems.

Over 100 growers attended the meeting held at a long term no till grower's farm. The meeting was sponsored by local NRCS agencies, local ag retail dealers, and ISU Extension. Sessions were held both in a classroom setting and out in field, with time for presentations, question and answer sessions, and hands on activities. A fellow extension specialist, ag engineer Shawn Shouse, and I were the featured presenters. As well as the growers in attendance, around 10-12 fertilizer, chemical, and seed dealers attended. Local print media also attended, and the regional ag radio station KMA covered the event live and interviewed both Shawn and myself. I shared two presentations/question and answer sessions with attendees, one in the classroom addressing nutrient management strategies, and one in the shop/field dealing with application and equipment issues. The event ran from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

Personal interviews and/or written evaluations were received from 23 attendees. All 23 rated the meeting "excellent", and 23 indicated the information they received would be helpful to their operation. On the N management topic, all 23 responded, with 18 indicating that they would change N management strategies, through rate reductions, application methods, and/or application timing changes and/or equipment modifications. The value of the changes was indicated to be from $3-10 per acre, with an average of $3.68 per acre. Carried out on a farm basis, the $3.68 value per acre multiplied by the 18 respondents average of 665 acres of corn was an impact of $44,050. For P, K, and lime management, 23 growers responded, with 13 indicating they would incorporate some changes in their nutrient management programs based on the information presented. Application rates, methods, and timing were the most common changes indicated. Four growers indicated that they were going to start or intensify soil sampling programs based on the information presented. 2 growers indicated they were going to change nutrient supply products from more expensive branded products to less costly "generic" nutrient products. The value of the changes was indicated to be from $2-9 per acre, with an average of $4.37. For the 13 growers who farmed an average of 1,230 acres of row crops, this equated to a value of $69,876. Total ISU Crops Extension impact for the day on the surveyed growers was $113,926.


Page last updated: July 8, 2006
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