Iowa Learning Farms, Practical Farmers of Iowa Co-host Aug. 30 Field Day

Kelly TobinAMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa will co-sponsor a field day at the Kelly Tobin farm near New Market in Taylor County on Tuesday, Aug. 30 from 4 to 7 p.m. The field day will feature a discussion of cover crop management and includes a complimentary evening meal with beef grilled by the Taylor County Cattlemen. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Field day attendees will hear from farmers Kelly Tobin and Paul Ackley, Bedford, about their experiences incorporating cover crops into their corn and soybean rotations. Other speakers include: Tom Kaspar, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, who will discuss cover crop management; Iowa State University graduate student Jose Pantoja, who will talk about his research with nitrogen rates in corn following a winter rye cover crop; and ISU agricultural and biosystems engineer Mark Hanna, who will discuss planter adaptations for planting into cover crops.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their families to the field day to see the Conservation Station — a mobile learning lab that teaches audiences of all ages about the importance of soil and water quality. The back of the Conservation Station houses a rainfall simulator, demonstrating the effects of rainfall on undisturbed soils with a variety of land covers, showing both surface water runoff as well as subsurface drainage. At the front is a learning center with displays and activities to learn about soil and water quality. Kids who attend the field day can become members of the “conservation pack” by participating in the Conservation Station’s activities.

Tobin is a longtime no-till farmer who began using cover crops two years ago as part of the Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa Learning Farms cover crop management working group. He is one of 10 farmers in this group planting corn or soybean into side-by-side, replicated field length strips with and without winter rye planted the previous fall.

The Tobin farm is located at 2056 Forest Ave., northeast of New Market. From Gravity, travel west on County Road J35; just after crossing the river bridge, turn right onto Forest Ave. From New Market go north through New Market, one mile to J35. Turn right and travel 3.5 miles east on J35 to Forest Ave.

Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation, encouraging adoption of residue management and conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF staff are working together to identify and implement the best in-field management practices that increase water and soil quality while remaining profitable. Iowa Learning Farms is a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources and USEPA (section 319); in cooperation with Conservation Districts of Iowa and the Iowa Farm Bureau.

Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call 515.232.5661 or visit  

- 30 -

Contact: Sarah Carlson, Practical Farmers of Iowa, 515-232-5661

[PHOTO] New Market, Iowa, farmer Kelly Tobin kneels between two test plots in spring 2010. Winter rye is cropping up in the plot on the right after being seeded the previous fall. Learn more about Tobin's research efforts at a field day on his farm, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 4–7 p.m.