Webinar Examines 15 Years of Iowa Learning Farms

August 5, 2019, 3:35 pm | Hilary Pierce, Jacqueline Comito

AMES, Iowa — A webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 21 at 12 p.m. will examine how Iowa Learning Farms has evolved over the past 15 years and discuss what new goals and challenges the future holds.

Iowa Learning Farms.“ILF started with a simple idea: Building a Culture of Conservation in Iowa through helping farmers talk to other farmers about protecting Iowa’s soil and water,” said Jacqueline Comito, Iowa Learning Farms program director. “Through the years our tactics and tools have evolved, but the fundamental strategy of applying a multidisciplinary approach to increase adoption of conservation practices has led to increased practices and greater natural resource protection.”

Comito will discuss ILF’s approach to outreach and education, and will also reference the “Building a Culture of Conservation – 2004-2019” 15-year report, which was published in March 2019.

The 15-year report highlights the program’s successes, growth and impacts, as well as some of the challenges faced and goals for the future. “The report contains a lot of good news, but also highlights some challenges we face in Iowa,” stated Comito. “We’ve made a good start — we’ve built the foundation of this Culture of Conservation — but that is only the beginning. We’ve established difficult but attainable goals for the next five to 10 years for us to continue to be successful.”

Some key findings from the report include that ILF farmer partners have expanded to included 88 farmers located in 51 Iowa counties, field days have grown from five to 32 annually and have engaged over 32,500 attendees, and cover crops were planted on more than 880,000 acres in 2018. These findings and more will be discussed during the webinar.

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319) and GROWMARK Inc.


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