Iowa Learning Farms Field Day Is Aug. 24 near Brandon

AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms, along with the Cedar River Coalition and Lime Creek Watershed Council, will host a field day on the Richard Sloan farm, near Brandon, Iowa, on Friday, Aug. 24, beginning at 10 a.m. The field day is free and open to the public.

The event will feature Richard Sloan, a Buchanan County farmer and Cedar River Watershed resident, who will discuss how he is incorporating continuous living cover into his corn-soybean rotations. Mary Beth Stevenson, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, will provide an update on the Cedar River Watershed Coalition. Also, Chad Ingels will discuss cover crops through the Sustainable Corn Project, of which Sloan is an advisory board member. The Sustainable Corn Project is a multi-state initiative, through the USDA, involving 10 land-grant universities and a USDA Agricultural Research laboratory. The study is exploring corn-based cropping systems and long-term weather variability. For more information about this project, visit the website www.sustainablecorn.org.

The field day will be held at the Sloan farmstead, 1531 330th Street; take the Brandon exit 49 off I-380; the farmstead is on the northeast corner of the I-380 exit and County Road D-48 (330th St). Field day attendees can visit with Sloan and fellow watershed residents, visit the Conservation Station and enjoy a complimentary lunch.

The Conservation Station is a mobile learning center that educates audiences of all ages about the importance of good soil and water quality. Visitors to the Conservation Station will learn about the importance of soil and water quality in Iowa and how everyone can help to preserve and protect these natural resources. Its rainfall simulator offers a strong visual of the connection between land management choices, soil erosion and water quality. The effects of rainfall on surface runoff and subsurface drainage are illustrated using five undisturbed land surfaces including assorted tillage treatments, buffers and pervious pavement.

Farmers and landowners are learning more about the short- and long-term benefits of adding cover crops on their farm. Cover crops have potential to reduce soil erosion, increase soil organic matter levels, improve soil structure, protect water quality by capturing and holding fertilizer nutrients, and restrict growth of winter annual weeds in no-till crop management systems.

Iowa Learning Farms takes a grassroots approach, offering innovative ways to help all Iowans have an active role in keeping Iowa’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.

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.

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