GREENFIELD, Iowa – A field day at the Neely-Kinyon Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm will focus on the challenges of summer 2019, which included an historically wet spring that impacted planting and weed management, followed by dry weather in July, which could potentially affect yields at harvest.
The Aug. 20 event in Greenfield is presented by the Iowa State University organic ag program, which will discuss best management practices for organic corn and soybean production from 4-7 p.m., along with research results on oats and alfalfa, which serve as soil-building crops in the organic rotation.
Options for prevented plantings will also be discussed, including planting cover crops to begin the transition to certified organic production. Cover crops, such as sorghum-sudangrass, offer multiple benefits. They provide a cover for prevented planting acreage, and the grass can be baled for livestock feed.
Details on crop insurance for prevented planting fields that are planted to cover crops can be found at the Risk Management Agency website.
Erika Lundy, beef specialist for the Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will provide information on summer annual cover crops planted at the farm that can be used for grazing and livestock feed.
Through timely weed management, longer crop rotations and appropriate manure-based fertilization, the program has demonstrated comparable organic corn, soybean, oat, alfalfa, vegetable and fruit yields compared to conventional crops.
Organic producers typically receive a premium for their product, with organic soybeans currently priced at $19 a bushel, and corn at $9 a bushel – about twice as high as current prices for conventional crops.
Soil quality with organic fields is usually high, thanks to the use of extended crop rotations, cover crops and compost applications, in addition to organic no-till farming. Research from USDA-ARS, Ames, has documented a 50% reduction in nitrate loading from organic vs. conventional fields, which will be discussed.
A farm tour will be followed by a light supper, featuring local and organic foods, and an after-supper discussion on organic no-till farming, by Levi Lyle, an organic farmer from Keota, Iowa.
Lyle is working with ISU and NRCS to develop best management practices for organic no-till.
Kathleen Delate, professor and extension organic specialist in horticulture and agronomy at Iowa State, will speak on organic grain, forage and vegetable crops, and soil and water quality under the organic fields.
Paul Scott, corn breeder from USDA-ARS, Ames, will discuss his efforts in breeding corn under organic conditions to develop high-performing hybrids.
Lundy will discuss the benefits of cover crops, including sorghum-sudangrass, Japanese millet, pearl millet and teff.
The day begins at 4 p.m., with a light supper at 5:30 p.m. The farm is located at 2557 Norfolk Ave., Greenfield. To reach the farm, go two miles south of Greenfield on Highway 25, one mile east, and a half mile north.
For more information, contact Kathleen Delate at email@example.com or 515-294-7069. Local information can be obtained from Kathy Rohrig, ISU Extension and Outreach Adair County office, at 641-743-8412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event is supported by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant and the ISU Extension and Outreach office in Adair County.
A second event, called the Organic Agronomy Training Series, will be held Aug. 14-15 in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and is geared toward professionals who want more information about transitioning to organic.
Photo: Sorghum-sudangrass, which will be shown at the Neely-Kinyon field day, can be used for prevented plantings, grazing and livestock feed.