Northwest Iowa Field Days Look at Integrating Cover Crops into Row Crops and Cattle

March 2, 2018, 2:50 pm | Erika Lundy-Woolfolk, Rebecca Vittetoe

Grazing CowsAMES, Iowa – Farmers and beef producers interested in learning more about cover crops and successfully integrating cover crops as a forage resource into their current beef and row crop enterprises are invited to attend either of two upcoming field days in Monona or Buena Vista County.

Erika Lundy, extension beef program specialist with the Iowa Beef Center, said both events feature similar topics but will be held on different days at two of Iowa State University’s outlying research farms. There is no cost to attend and a free meal is included at both locations.

“The first field day will be held at the Iowa State Western Research Farm near Castana on March 28 from 10 a.m. to about 2 p.m.," she said. "This field day's focus is on cover crop usage in the Loess Hills and will highlight a current Iowa State research study using stocker cattle to graze cereal rye.”

Rebeca VIttetoe, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, said presenters also will offer information on benefits that cover crops can provide and how cover crop management in the Loess Hills may be different from other areas of the state.

“Preventing soil erosion is important, especially in Iowa’s Loess Hills as the soil is quite vulnerable to erosion. Cover crops are one tool farmers can use to reduce soil erosion on their farms,” she said. "Joel DeJong, extension field agronomist in northwest Iowa, will talk about using cover crops to protect the land."

Other sessions at Castana include nutritional considerations when grazing cover crops, and fencing and watering considerations. Additional agronomy focused topics include cover crop seeding and termination methods, and the impact of cover crop and grazing cover crops on soil compaction and future crop yields.

The second field day will be held on Thursday, April 12, at the Allee Demonstration Farm near Newell. This program agenda is similar to that at Castana, featuring best management practices for cover crop establishment, grazing cover crops, cover crop termination, and fencing and watering systems.

“At the Allee field day, we also will have a local producer panel to discuss their personal challenges and successes of integrating cover crops into their operations," Vittetoe said. "In addition, the Allee Farm manager Lyle Rossiter will discuss on-going cover crop research at the farm.”

Additional speakers and project collaborators are:

  •     Mike Witt, field agronomist, ISU Extension and Outreach
  •     Paul Kassel, field agronomist, ISU Extension and Outreach
  •     Beth Doran, beef specialist, ISU Extension and Outreach
  •     Dan Loy, beef specialist, ISU Extension and Outreach
  •     Kris Kohl, ag engineer, ISU Extension and Outreach
  •     Chris Beedle, farm manager, Iowa State University Western Research Farm

There is no cost for either field day thanks to the sponsorship of ISU Extension and Outreach, Iowa Beef Center and Iowa Nutrient Research Center. However, those planning to attend are asked to RSVP to ensure adequate meal counts and materials. To RSVP for the Castana field day, contact Monona County Extension Office by phone at 712-423-2171 or email To RSVP for the Newell field day, contact Sac County Extension Office by phone 712-662-7131 or email

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