Field & Feedlot

Field & Feedlot is a monthly newsletter of current educational topics written by Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach specialists in Northwest Iowa.

March 2021

Farm Couples Can Enjoy a Weekend Getawy This Spring

Going Forward with Drought-Stricken Pastures by Beth Ellen Doran, Beef Specialist

Watershed Project Coordinators: A Local Resource for Soil and Water Quality Improvement by Jamie Benning, Assistant Director, Ag and Natural Resources Extension

Roudup Ready Xtend and Enlist E3 Overview by Paul Kassel, Field Agronomist


Farm Couples Can Enjoy a Weekend Getaway This Spring

In response to high levels of both personal and financial farm stress, ISU Extension and Outreach is offering three “Farm Couple Getaways” aimed at farmers wanting to take advantage of activities to improve farm family communication, work on farm or family goalsetting or farm transitioning, or who would just like a weekend away to discuss farm and family issues.

The first getaway will be held Friday and Saturday, March 26 and 27 at Best Western Plus in Dubuque.

The dates and locations for the other getaways are as follows:                                           

  • Friday and Saturday, April 9-10, at Lake Shore Center at Okoboji in Milford.
  • Friday and Saturday, April 16-17, at Hotel Winneshiek in Decorah.    

The getaways run from 12:30 p.m. on the first day to 3:15 p.m. on the second day. There is no cost to attend, as food, lodging and other expenses are being paid for by sponsorships. However, there is a $50 per couple deposit to hold each reservation, refundable on the second day of the event.

“Past Farm Couple Getaways have proven to be beneficial to farm couples. They are a productive and delightful time to discuss items of importance to help farms and families be successful,” said Larry Tranel, dairy specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

Each getaway will consist of 10 farm couples and the Extension facilitators. Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis, due two weeks prior to each session. The registration brochure and more information are available at

The Farm Couple Getaway statewide gold sponsor is the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. Additional local Northwest Iowa sponsors include AMPI, Iowa Corn, Western Iowa Dairy Alliance (WIDA), American State Bank, VanZee Enterprises, Inc. and AgroPur.

For more information, contact local Dairy Specialist Fred Hall at or 712-737-4230.

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Going Forward with Drought-Stricken Pastures

Beth Ellen Doran, Beef Specialist

Continue to monitor drought conditions. The U.S Drought Monitor, which provides a picture of drought conditions, can be viewed at Maps are available for both a seasonal and weekly outlook. In Northwest Iowa, the outlook is for persisting drought from January 21 through April 30. Begin planning what strategies you will take with your pastures.

Check the forage stand for plant vigor and density. If drought conditions improve, consider frost seeding red clover or interseeding drought-tolerant species. If the plant stand is poor, it may be necessary to establish a new seeding. But, for any method of seeding to be successful, there must be sufficient and continuous moisture.

Consider fertilization to help boost pasture grasses. Grasses respond well to 60-100 pounds of Nitrogen (N) per acre, as long as soil pH, phosphorus and potassium levels are adequate. If drought conditions persist this winter, consider applying half of the N in early spring and the other half in August if moisture levels improve.

Delay turnout until the forage is 6-8 inches tall. If forage plants are grazed too soon, this will weaken existing plants, delay future growth, and increase weed competition.

Think about weed control. There are basically two ways to do this – provide competition with desirable species of pasture plants or use chemical or mechanical control. 

Avoid overgrazing. Move the cattle to a new pasture when the forage height is no shorter than 4 inches and allow a minimum of 21 days for cool-season grasses to regrow in late spring/early summer. In mid-to-late summer, the number of days needed for regrowth may expand to 6 weeks or more.

Consider planting summer annuals to spare pastures. ISU Extension and Outreach has a publication, “Selecting Forage Species,” that lists the characteristics (including drought tolerance) of various species. It is available for free download at

Realize there is no magic bullet. Regardless of what is considered or planned, success ultimately hinges on timely rains and growing degree days. If drought continues, forage insurance may be warranted.

For more information about forages, check out the Iowa Beef Center at

Upcoming Beef Programs:

  • I-29 Moo University Dairy Beef Short Course - March 23. This virtual program focuses on health factors affecting animal performance in the morning and the future of dairy beef production in the afternoon. Register ($25/person) by accessing before March 22. More information can be found at
  • Feedlot Forum 2021 – June 29. This in-person meeting features production topics in the morning followed by marketing issues in the afternoon. Stay tuned for details in the May issue of Field and Feedlot.

New Publications from Ag Decision Maker (

  • Livestock Planning Prices (B1-10)
  • Historical Hog and Lamb Prices (B2-10)
  • Historical Cattle Prices (B2-12)
  • Live Cattle Basis (B2-42)
  • Feeder Cattle Basis (B2-43)
  • Feeder Steer-Heifer Price Spread (B2-45)
  • Monthly Cattle Feeding Returns in Iowa (B1-36).            

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Watershed Project Coordinators: A Local Resource for Soil and Water Quality Improvement

Jamie Benning, Assistant Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension

Farmers and landowners across the state work regularly with their local Natural Resource Conservation Service and Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) professionals to plan and construct conservation practices or discuss cost share options to try new management practices. Watershed coordinators are also located within many SWCD offices and are valuable resources for farmers within specific watersheds to help address conservation and water quality concerns.

Colton Meyer has served in the watershed coordinator role for the West Branch of the Floyd River Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Project since 2016 and in early 2020, he was hired by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) to expand his efforts and coordinate water quality improvement in the entire Floyd River Watershed. The watershed includes portions of Sioux, O’Brien, Plymouth and small portions of Osceola and Woodbury counties. Meyer consults with farmers and landowners in the watershed to increase practices including bioreactors, saturated buffers, terraces, filter strips, grassed waterways, cover crops, no-till and low disturbance manure application. Cost-share funding is available as an incentive to try new management practices and to cover 50 to 100 percent of the cost for constructing edge-of-field practices such as bioreactors and saturated buffers.

Watershed projects, including the Floyd River WQI project, collaborate with partners, including local co-ops and other agribusinesses, agriculture and conservation organizations and ISU Extension and Outreach to host field days, workshops, youth education events, and outreach to the communities in the watershed to share project information and cost-share opportunities with farmers and landowners.

The Deep Creek-Willow Creek WQI project and the North Raccoon WQI project are two additional active watershed projects working to improve water quality in Northwest Iowa. To learn more about these projects or to connect with project coordinators, visit their project websites or contact them directly.

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Roundup Ready Xtend and Enlist E3 Overview

Paul Kassel, Field Agronomist
712-262-2264 or

The following is an overview of the Roundup Ready Xtend trait and herbicide system and Enlist E3 trait and herbicide system.

The roundup ready trait – that allowed the use of Roundup for almost complete weed control in a soybean crop revolutionized soybean weed control in 1997. However, times have changed…and so have weeds…and so have soybean herbicide tolerance traits. Roundup applied alone is much less useful for complete weed control in soybeans. Traits have been introduced that allow the use of broadleaf herbicides in the soybean crop. The following herbicide traits will highlight some of the key areas of these herbicide traits and includes the benefits and limitations of these soybean varieties.

Some major points to consider:

  • The soybean dicamba products like Engenia, Fexapan, Xtendimax versus the 2,4-D choline product like Enlist One will provide similar weed control results. The dicamba products might be slightly more effective on marestail, ragweeds, wild buckwheat and smartweed.
  • Both systems will indicate ‘do not apply’ when wind is blowing towards sensitive crops.
  • Crops that are sensitive to dicamba include non-dicamba tolerant soybean varieties, seedling alfalfa and CRP seedings that include broadleaves.
  • Crops that are sensitive to 2,4-D include fruit crops, vegetable crops and grapes/vineyards.             
  • The Enlist E3 system and Enlist herbicides have about a 10 day longer application window.
  • Non-Enlist E3 soybean varieties are more tolerant of Enlist herbicides than non-Roundup Ready Xtend varieties are of dicamba. Therefore, the sensitive area buffer is less with the Enlist E3 system than with the Xtend system.

Other resources:

Iowa Concern, offered by ISU Extension and Outreach, provides confidential access to stress counselors and an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. With a toll-free phone number, live chat capabilities and a website, Iowa Concern services are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week at no charge. To reach Iowa Concern, call 800-447-1985; language interpretation services are available. Or, email an expert regarding legal, finance, stress, or crisis and disaster issues. Or, visit to live chat with a stress counselor one-on-one in a secure environment.

COVID Recovery Iowa offers a variety of services to anyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual counselors and consultants provide counseling, family finance consultation, farm financial consultation, referral information and help finding resources for any Iowan seeking personal support. Iowans of all ages may join groups online for activities and learn creative strategies for coping with the effects of the pandemic. COVID Recovery Iowa will announce upcoming programs on the website and via all social media to help Iowans build coping skills, resilience and emotional support. To request support, go to

Finding Answers Now. As Iowans deal with disruptions to their families and communities, Finding Answers Now provides information to help you cope with concerns about stress and relationships, personal finance, and nutrition and wellness. Visit the website at

211 is a free, comprehensive information and referral line linking Iowa residents to health and human service programs, community services, disaster services and governmental programs. This service is collaborating with the Iowa Department of Public Health to provide confidential assistance, stress counseling, education and referral services related to COVID-19 concerns.

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