Redefining the Field Edge Is Focus of Upcoming Webinar

Perennial vegetation can increase returns and improve soil, water and wildlife

August 31, 2020, 9:27 am | Liz Ripley

farm family.AMES, Iowa—Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, and Conservation Learning Group, is hosting a free virtual field day focused on redefining the field edge with the use of perennial vegetation on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 1 p.m.

Floyd County farmer Dennis Staudt, and Mark Licht, assistant professor in agronomy and cropping systems specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will lead the discussion.

The prairie pothole region starts in central Iowa and runs northwest into Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and across the plains of Canada, covering nearly 173 million total acres. Even with subsurface drainage systems in place, many of these small prairie potholes are associated with high production risk and often represent the lowest profitability areas within a field.

A CLG project led by Licht and funded by North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education is working with Staudt and three additional Iowa farmers to convert marginal land areas to perennial vegetation to evaluate the return on investment and explore the potential benefits to water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat.

“The edge of the field was seeded to perennial vegetation this spring and borders on a creek that runs from a drainage district and passes downstream,” said Staudt. “The creek is in the ditch, however. In rainy seasons, it fills up the creek and actually goes over the road in places, and likewise comes into my field. On average, I was able to harvest a profitable crop one out of three years. I am hopeful this project will result in less grief in maintaining and harvesting that area while conserving the soil.”

To participate in the live virtual field day at 1 p.m. on Sept. 10, click this URL: or visit and click “Join Live Virtual Field Day”.

Or, join from a dial-in phone line by dialing: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923; Meeting ID: 914 1198 4892.

The field day will be recorded and archived on the ILF website so that it can be watched at any time.

Participants may be eligible for a Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit. Information about how to apply to receive the credit (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live field day.

About the Authors: 

Liz Ripley

Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks!