AMES, IOWA — The use of cover crops on Iowa farm fields is growing. Cover crops benefit the soil by slowing erosion, helping with nutrient management, and building organic matter.
To help farmers understand how cover crops work and the best management practices for including them in rotations, Iowa Learning Farms has developed several educational resources. Numerous ILF field days and workshops across Iowa offer techniques and pointers from farmers and cover crop experts. More workshops are planned for 2014.
A new video, “Cover Crops: Farmer Perspectives,” is now available from Iowa Learning Farms. This video features seven Iowa farmers who use cover crops on their agricultural fields. They offer perspectives on four cover crop topics: why they grow cover crops; how to get started, seeding methods and management; growing cover crops for seed; and grazing cover crops.
The goal of the video is to provide those interested in adding cover crops with lessons learned by other farmers, and help them possibly avoid some of the “rookie” mistakes when trying cover crops.
“From our experience hosting field days and talking with farmers, we know that the farmer-to-farmer dialogue is the most effective. Farmers want to hear from others with experience,” said Nathan Stevenson, an ILF team member. He oversaw the production of the video along with ILF team member Liz Juchems. Anderson Production Services handled the filming and editing.
Featured farmers include: Gary Nelson, Webster County; Barry Kusel, Carroll County; Tim Smith, Wright County; Jeremy Gustafson, Boone County; Larry Haren, Webster County; Rick Juchems, Butler County; and Wade Dooley, Marshall County.
In 2011, ILF produced a cover crops video, “Adding a Cover Cop to a Corn-Soybean Rotation,” featuring cover crop expert Sarah Carlson with Practical Farmers of Iowa. Both videos are on the ILF YouTube channel, along with all the ILF videos.
All Iowa Learning Farms videos are available on DVD by request at no cost. To request a DVD, contact ILF by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; be sure to include which DVD you are requesting and a mailing address. Or write to Iowa Learning Farms, 219A Davidson Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011. For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit the website: www.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/.