Iowa Learning Farms hosts Sept. 14 field day at Pekin High School

Ames, Iowa—Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) is partnering with Pekin Community Schools and the Competine Creek Watershed Improvement Group for a day of conservation activities. On Wednesday, Sept. 14, a field day will be held for the public from 12:00-2:00 p.m. The field day is free and includes a noon hour barbecue prepared by the Pekin FFA chapter. The field day will be held at Pekin Community High School.

The field day will focus on strategies to reduce nitrate losses from row crop acres, including use of the fall cornstalk nitrate test and cover crop management. Cover crops have the potential to reduce erosion while holding fertilizer nutrients in the field to protect and improve soil and water quality. Tom Kaspar, USDA-ARS research agronomist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, and ISU Agronomy Extension soil fertility specialist John Sawyer will discuss cover crop selection, fall establishment, spring management and nitrogen fertilizer needs of corn planted after a cover crop. Washington County ILF farmer-partner Rob Stout will be on hand to share his experiences adding a winter rye cover crop to his corn-soybean rotation. Jamie Benning, project coordinator with the Performance-based Watershed Management project, will review end-of-season stalk nitrate testing and interpretation of test results.

In the morning, ILF staff will work with Pekin High School students, who will participate in a number of water quality activities. Students will see the Conservation Station and participate in activities to learn about soil erosion, crop residue and the importance of preserving the soil and improving water quality in their watershed. They will also see the Conservation Station’s rainfall simulator, which shows the effects of rainfall on several different surface scenarios and subsurface drainage including highly disturbed land, no-till and residue-covered surfaces, buffers and permeable pavement.

The Conservation Station will be open during the afternoon field day. Families are encouraged to bring the younger kids to learn about conservation, too. Kids can become members of the “conservation pack” by participating in age-appropriate Conservation Station activities.

The field day will be held at Pekin High School, located 1.7 miles south of Highway 78, immediately south of Pekin. From Highway 78, turn south onto County Road V-51 (240th Ave.); V-51 becomes Birch Ave. when entering Jefferson County. The school’s address is 1062 Birch Ave.

Iowa Learning Farms are 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.

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