The Iowa Learning Farm Project: Promotion of Conservation Systems

Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Faculty, Department of Agronomy and Mark Licht, Crops Field Specialist, Northwest Iowa

Situation

ISU Extension in partnership with IDALS, DNR, and NRCS developed the Iowa Learning Farm project. The main goal of this project is the integration of agronomic, economic, and community aspects in promoting conservation systems coupled with an extensive educational program.  The Iowa Learning Farm brings a new dimension for developing and transferring emerging technologies and fine-tuning old technologies that are community based, economically feasible, and environmentally responsible.

Objectives

1) Develop and promote regional conservation systems across the state that are suitable to each landscape and ecosystem for improvement to soil and water quality, 2) conduct educational programs with leadership and involvement of state and local communities and agricultural professional, 3) evaluate the agronomic and economic benefits of conservation systems, and 4) assess the social obstacles of conservation systems and lack of adoption through surveys and focus groups.

Activities/Outputs

An educational component was developed along with research aspects to disseminate information to area and statewide producers on conservation systems and water quality.  These outreach activities include field days, workshops, clinics, conferences, newsletters, conservation minutes, print media and a web page.  Information generated by the project was delivered to farmers, agribusinesses, and agency personnel.

Impact/Outcomes

Education material has been developed for the project and is used in the development of informal fact sheets for field days, production of five issues of the Iowa Learning Farm newsletter, over 45 Conservation Minutes were broadcasted, over ten field days reaching an audience of approximately 500 farmers and agricultural professionals. Information and data generated from this project are utilized by farmers and agribusiness groups, field extension specialists, and agency personnel. Additionally, a Conservation Systems Rainfall Simulator was developed to demonstrate the effect of conservation practices on soil erosion and water quality.  This tool was demonstrated at six field days around the state and created significant interest among people from urban and rural communities.

September 2006

POW#: 150 Environmental Stewardship

Page last updated: September 29, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu