Progress Report on Rathbun Forage Project

Harris Sellers, Livestock Field Specialist, Southwest Area

Optimizing forage management continues to be a key area of emphasis for Iowa cattle producers and in developing Extension education programs. The Rathbun watershed is a vital system supplying drinking water to most of SE Iowa . Maintaining and expanding forage acres in the watershed is one key to reducing soil erosion and delivery of sediment to the lake.

Local ISU Extension staff are working with the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance to develop and deliver an integrated forage management demonstration and education program in the watershed. This program is delivered by Sellers and staff contracted by the Lucas County Extension district. Funds from the Rathbun Lake Special Project (EPA) are being used to start demonstrations on seven producer farms, and three demonstrations at the McNay Research farm. Thus far in 2005 eight workshops or field days have been conducted in the watershed, reaching 200 producers and agribusiness people.

Evaluation of meetings has indicated a high level of satisfaction with the educational programming delivered. Programming on fescue management delivered by Sellers and Dr Craig Roberts, University of Missouri introduced producers to several management ideas to increase cattle performance. Demonstrations will be evaluated in more detail in the winter of 2005-2006. The cooperator farms and other stakeholder farms in the watershed have converted large acreages that recently were in row crop production to forage production. Project staff will work with Rathbun Alliance and NRCS staff to model the impact of these land use adjustments on soil loss and sediment delivery to the lake, as well as economic impacts to the operations. In addition, project staff are evaluating the amount of CRP contracts set to expire by 2007, and the impact of various land use alternatives for that acreage.
July 9, 2005
107 -- Iowa Beef Center

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