AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will host a cover crop and wetland field day near Nashua on Thursday, Nov. 7. The 12-2 p.m. event will be held at the Borlaug Learning Center. The event is free, open to the entire family and includes a complimentary meal.
Ben Johnson, Floyd County farmer, and his family grow corn and soybeans, and manage a ewe flock and feeder lamb operation. The Johnsons began no-tilling soybeans over 15 years ago and have 10 years of experience strip-tilling corn. As participants in the Conservation Learning Lab project, the Johnsons are seeding cover crops on over 54% of the nearby research watershed acres. Since 2013, the Johnsons have seeded over 400 acres of cereal rye, rapeseed and oats as cover crops to help control erosion, and improve organic matter and overall soil structure.
The field day will offer an opportunity to learn how labor availability and profitability have played into the Johnsons' decision to adopt the reduced tillage practices. Ben will also share their experiences with cover crops and discuss how they have overcome challenges.
The field day agenda will continue with Matt Helmers, Iowa State University professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, highlighting the research behind the Conservation Learning Lab project and sharing the results from the two years of monitoring at the project Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program wetlands. Liz Juchems, Iowa Learning Farms conservation outreach specialist, will share results from cover crop projects examining species selection, seeding techniques, water quality and soil health indicators like earthworms. Weather permitting, a field tour of nearby CREP wetland will conclude the program.
Cover crops continue to grow in popularity in Iowa due to their many benefits including increased soil organic matter, weed suppression potential and reduced soil erosion. Together with edge-of-field practices like bioreactors, wetlands and saturated buffers are key to reducing nitrate loss from agricultural land in Iowa.
The field day will be held at the Borlaug Learning Center, 3327 290th Street, Nashua. From Nashua, head west on IA-346/280th Street for one mile. Turn left on Windfall Avenue for 1 mile. Turn left on 290th Street and the location will be on the north side of the road. Attendees are encouraged to park on the east side of the building.
The workshop is free and open to the public, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate space and food. Contact Liz Juchems at 515-294-5429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iowa Learning Farms field days and workshops are supported by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.