Hewitt Creek Watershed Field Day June 8 near New Vienna

AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms and the Hewitt Creek Watershed Improvement Association are hosting a field day starting at 10 a.m. Friday, June 8, at the Al Wente denitrifying bioreactor site located at 26723 New Vienna Road, Farley, Iowa. The farm site is located 6.5 miles east of New Vienna on New Vienna Road (Dubuque County road D-17). The field day will focus on best-management practices to reduce nitrate fertilizer losses from farm fields. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Matt Helmers, water quality engineer with Iowa State University and Iowa Learning Farms, will present research data from Iowa bioreactor sites. Helmers will describe how the Wente bioreactor was designed and how it will work to reduce nitrate delivery from the subsurface tile lines that are draining cropped fields. The bioreactor is equipped with flow monitoring equipment and is sampled regularly to monitor nitrate reduction as part of the Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI). The Wente bioreactor is one of two bioreactors installed in northwest Dubuque County during the summer of 2011.

Hewitt Creek Watershed Association members will share their experiences of adding cover crops last fall and how this season’s corn and soybean crops are progressing following the overwintering cover crops. Use of the late spring soil nitrate test will be detailed, and watershed coordinator Matt Welsh will provide an update about the success of the North Fork Maquoketa River Watershed MRBI project.

The Hewitt Creek Watershed Improvement Association is a farmer-led association located in northwest Dubuque County. Nearly 75 percent of the farmers in the watershed have participated in watershed improvement activities. The association was initiated in 2005 and received seed money from the Iowa Farm Bureau prior to receiving two watershed improvement grants from the Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board. The Hewitt Creek watershed is also part of the North Fork Maquoketa River MRBI. More information about the watershed improvement project can be found at http://hewittcreek.wordpress.com/.

The Iowa Learning Farms Lil’ Conservation Station will be showcased at the event. The Conservation Station is a mobile learning center that travels across the state teaching all Iowans how they can help to improve water quality and keep Iowa’s soils in place — building a culture of conservation. The Conservation Station’s rainfall simulator demonstrates the effects of rainfall on different land scenarios. Water runoff and subsurface drainage are collected in clear jars that show what is coming off the land, including heavily tilled soil, minimum tillage and pervious pavement.

Iowa Learning Farms takes a grassroots approach, offering innovative ways to help all Iowans have an active role in keeping the state’s natural resources healthy and not take them for granted. A goal of Iowa Learning Farms is to build a culture of conservation, encouraging the adoption of residue management and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable. Visit the Iowa Learning Farms website for more information: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/ilf.

Iowa Learning Farms is a partnership of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319); in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa, the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Water Center.