Iowa Learning Farms to Host Cover Crop Field Day Sept. 7

AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms and Wapello County NRCS will co-host a field day near Martinsburg on Friday, Sept. 7, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The field day will focus on cover crop management for optimum results as part of the Competine Creek Watershed project. The field day is free and the public is invited to attend. A free lunch will follow the field day program.

The CCW has received funding to improve water quality within the watershed. Cover crops are a good way to help capture nitrates and other nutrients unused by row crops, preventing them from entering rivers and streams. Cover crops utilize the nutrients from late fall to early spring, during the time when the cash crop is out of the field. Cover crops also improve water quality by reducing erosion from late fall through early spring, and they increase soil organic matter and provide slow release of nutrients.

At the field day Wellman area farmer Steve Berger will share his insights about using cover crops. Berger has included late summer/fall-seeded winter rye into his crop rotation on more than 500 acres for the last several years. Sarah Carlson, cover crop specialist with Practical Farmers of Iowa, will discuss cover crop opportunities for those interested in beginning to use this soil-saving practice. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach agronomist Jamie Benning will discuss the results of end-of-season cornstalk nitrate sampling within the watershed. CCW coordinator Ryan Rasmussen will answer questions about the watershed improvement project and provide updates about newly-received funding for water quality monitoring.

The field day site is located on the Tim Davis farm at the intersection of 165th Street and 25th Avenue. From Martinsburg, travel 3.5 miles south on County Road V-41 (Farson Road), then 2.5 miles east on County Road H-17 (165th St.) to the intersection of 25th Avenue.

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

Iowa Learning Farms is a partnership between 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.