January 26, 2017


ISU Extension & Outreach: Soil Health Workshop Ionia, IA | IAWA
Apr 3 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Soil Health Workshop at Carolyn Nelson’s Farm in Ionia, Iowa

This soil health workshop will go from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM at 1465 170th St. in Ionia, Iowa. The registration deadline is March 31, 2017. The workshop will be held on April 3, 2017.

Please contact Sarah Merrifield for questions. She’s available at (641) 394-2174 and merrifie@iastate.edu. 

Registration and more information available.

Furthermore, Iowa is in the early years of implementing the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS), a science-based plan that will take decades to accomplish. Experience and research has shown that it can take more than one in-field or edge-of-field practice to reach nutrient reduction goals. In tile-drained landscapes, nitrate is a key focus. Therefore, the combination of practices needed to reduce nitrate loss may include cover crops, adaptive management of nutrient application rates and timing, along with practices like bioreactors or saturated buffers.

As a result, local watershed planning is essential to determine the right combination of practices for each field and each farm as an integrated system that best meets local watershed and priority resource needs.

Farmers, conservation experts and scientists are working together to perfect and scale up practices known to reduce nutrients in water. Depending on conditions on a particular farm, it’s possible for farmers to be using more than one practice. In general, producers make decisions within the context of their total operations’ profitability.

There are annual practices and longer-term practices. To learn more about soil health and water quality solutions at work, please visit here.

About ISU Extension and Outreach’s Land-Grant Mission:

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach carries Iowa State’s land-grant mission throughout the state — everywhere for all Iowans.

They serve as a 99-county campus, connecting the needs of Iowans with Iowa State University research and resources.

They provide education and partnerships because they wish to solve today’s problems and prepare for the future.

Practical Farmers of Iowa: Hancock Field Day, Cover Crops | IAWA
Apr 4 @ 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Cover Crop Field Day for Corn and Soybeans

Practical Farmers of Iowa and farmer Russ Brandes will host a cover crop field day on Tuesday, April 4, from noon to 3 p.m., at Russ’ farm near Hancock (37333 Mahogany Rd., 6 miles west of town).

The event is part of Practical Farmers’ 2017 spring cover crop “caravan” field day series, which features events at locations across Iowa exploring cover crop issues in grazing and row crop systems.

Russ operates Brandes Farms Inc., a 400-acre corn and soybean operation that incorporates cover crops and some alfalfa. He also has a small cow-calf herd and hogs.

The field day will start with lunch at noon, provided by Russ. After lunch, guests will head to the field. Here, Russ will share his experience with planting cover crops using his corn and soybean planter; managing spring cover crops; growing cover crop seed; and variety selection for summer cover crops. Colten Catterton, of Green Cover Seed, will also be on hand to discuss and answer questions about choosing varieties for summer cover crops.

Farmer Russ Brandes’ Experience Planting Cover Crops Using His Corn and Soybean Planter

“I’d like to be able to show the practices I do that people might not have thought of,” Russ says. “For example, I use my corn and bean planter to plant my rye, and I don’t know that everyone is aware you can do something like that.”

“I am certainly no expert, but I base my practices on what I hear. Also on what I read and my gut feelings about the whole thing. By hosting this field day, other farmers who learn the same way I do can get to know more about cover crops and some unique practices they might want to try.”

The event – “Cover Crops for Corn and Soybeans” – is free to attend and includes lunch. Please RSVP for the meal to Alisha Bower, alisha@practicalfarmers.org or (515) 232-5661, by Friday, March 31.

Visit PFI’s site here to find out more!

Practical Farmers of Iowa: Leighton Field Day, Cover Crops | IAWA
Apr 6 @ 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Cover Crop Field Day in Leighton, Iowa

Practical Farmers of Iowa and farmer Ward Van Dyke, in partnership with Mahaska County Soil and Water Conservation District and Muchakinock Creek Watershed Project, will host a cover crop field day on Thursday, April 6, from noon to 3 p.m., at three locations in the Leighton area. Ward raises primarily corn and soybeans on about 2,000 acres. He practices no-till and reduced tillage and incorporates cover crops.

The event – “Cover Crops for Corn and Soybeans” – is free to attend and will start with lunch at noon, supplied by Ward. It is located at the Leighton town hall (306 Otley St., Leighton). Please RSVP for the meal to Alisha Bower, alisha@practicalfarmers.org or (515) 232-5661, by Monday, April 3.

After lunch, guests will caravan together to the second stop – one of Ward’s fields, located at 1233 205thSt. (about 4 miles northwest of the Leighton town hall). Guests will get to see a cereal rye cover crop that Ward planted last fall in a fertilizer application and incorporated with vertical tillage. Also, Ward will share his experience with different ways of planting cover crops, as well as how cover crops have affected water quality, soil loss, and phosphorus and potassium loads on his farm.

To learn more about these water quality and soil health solutions at work visit IAWA’s webpage.

Farmer Steve Berger and Scouting Cover Crops

Steve Berger, who farms near Wellman, will also speak at this stop. He’ll talk about how to scout cover crop fields to assess the health and success of the stand. Then, attendees will get to participate in a scouting activity.

Ward has learned by attending field days hosted by other farmers. He wants to extend the same opportunity to others. “I hope others can learn from my successes and my mistakes, and that I can learn from the other presenters. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. How do we change management to make these [practices] work?”

From there, the group will caravan to the third stop – a field operated by farmer Arvin Vander Wilt. This field is located between Leighton and Pella (1938 Bayard Ave., about 4.5 miles from Ward’s field). Arvin is a partner with Mahaska Soil and Water Conservation District. He has an oat-rye cover crop mix planted on his crop fields that attendees will get to view. Jason Steele, area resource soil scientist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, will use a rainfall simulator to show how soil cover and roots in the ground affect soil properties.

For directions and more information visit PFI’s site here.

To learn more about cover crops and other solutions at work visit IAWA’s webpage.

Upper Iowa Watershed Management Authority Meeting April 2017 @ Decorah City Council Chambers
Apr 6 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Quarterly Meeting to Address Local Water Quality Issues in the Watershed

Iowa Watershed Approach partners will join the Upper Iowa Watershed Management Authority (WMA) for their quarterly meeting. As a result, this meeting will be on April 6th at 7PM at the Decorah City Council Chambers. Cities, counties, and soil and water conservation districts make up UIRWMA. It addresses local water quality issues in the watershed.

The WMA is an opportunity to stay involved in the activities of the IWA and also ask questions about the program. Open to the public are meetings. Therefore, anyone is welcome to attend!

For more information about the Upper Iowa WMA meeting, contact Kate Giannini at kate-giannini@uiowa.edu.

The Upper Iowa River Watershed Management Authority (WMA) formed in November 2015 and is a board of directors from cities, counties, soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) within the Upper Iowa River basin who have agreed to work together in order to:

  • Assess and reduce the flood risks and improve water quality in the watershed;
  • Monitor the federal flood risk planning and activities;
  • Educate residents; and
  • Allocate monies for purposes of water quality and flood mitigation.

Recap of UIRWMA Meeting:

Ross Evelsizer presented on RC&D’s work including resiliency planning regarding soil health, flow control, and riparian work. The entire watershed is worked on, not just the sub-watersheds selected. A recommendation was made to look into forming a technical committee to begin reviewing the sub-watersheds. Further information from RC&D can be found here and look at the WMA page.

Members of the Iowa Flood Center presented on varying topics. Larry Weber outlined that we will be building an overall plan that will encourage continued funding opportunities even after the use of the HUD based grant. Mr. Weber also stated that at this point, it is likely all sub-watersheds will hydrological needs, therefore initial review can begin. Furthermore, Antonio Arenes continued the hydrological analysis and is currently building models to refine the data for sub-watersheds. Arenes elaborated on the different assessment tools used. He is seeking two sites for the placement of weather stations and soil moisture meters. Lastly, Felicia Campbell of IDALS informed the group that IDALS will provide assistance on technical aspects, funding use, and process development for the Project Coordinator. Ms. Campbell provided a WMA Laundry List to generate ideas of what actions they’ll take.

Boone River Watershed
Apr 10 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Field Day

For directions and more info:

Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture: Workshop for Women
Apr 11 @ 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Workshop for Women in Oskaloosa, Iowa

Women who own or manage farmland in Mahaska and surrounding counties are invited to participate in a free discussion focused on CRP Tuesday, April 11th, at the Extension and  Outreach Center in Oskaloosa.

The morning will start with registration, coffee and resource sharing at 8:30 am. The meeting will begin promptly at 9:00 am. Lunch will be provided, and during an afternoon field trip in the Muchakinock Creek Watershed, participants will tour the surrounding countryside. Additionally, there they will view CRP plantings and other stewardship practices. Furthermore, the meeting will end with dessert and wrap-up at the Extension office by 3:00 pm.

This event is because maintaining healthy soil is the key to productivity and environmental health for our farmland. As a result, women landowners who attend will learn to improve and protect their soils and water through the use of targeted CRP practices. Special maps will be used namely to show how protecting soil can be profitable and also there will be an introduction to how variable rate technology can play a role. Local agency staff will help explain the CRP program and the application process. 

What is the Conservation Reserve Program?

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality. Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover. This helps improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat. If you would like to watch an informational video on CRP, please click here.

To be sure of numbers, please RSVP by 4:00 pmFriday, April 7th to Wendi at (641) 673-3476wendi.denham@ia.usda.gov. For more information about this program, visit www.womencaringfortheland.org or call Carol at 641-430-2540.

Lastly, FSA, Mahaska SWCD, NRCS, and Women, Food and Agriculture Network are sponsoring this event.

Cover Crops in Beef Production Field Day | Iowa Ag Water Alliance @ Allee Research Farm (near Newell)
Apr 11 @ 9:30 am – 11:30 am

Successful Cover Crop Use in Beef Production

Producers may attend one or both upcoming ‘Successful Cover Crop Use in Beef Production’ field days. They are on Tuesday, April 11 in Northwest Iowa.

“There will be two field days in two locations in one day,” said Erika Lundy. Lundy is a Beef Program Specialist with the Iowa Beef Center, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach.

“The morning session will focus on using stocker cattle to graze cereal rye, and the afternoon program will look at using cover crops for cow-calf grazing. Both programs offer benefits to beef producers and both programs will outline some best management practices.”

The morning field day will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the ISU Allee Demonstration Farm located at 2006 240th Street, Newell. Featured speakers include ISU Extension and Outreach agronomy field specialists, Joel DeJong and Mike Witt, as well as beef field specialist, Beth Doran.

Rebecca Vittetoe is an ISU Extension and Outreach agronomy field specialist. She added, “In addition to the grazing focus, we will also discuss cover crop termination and management going into corn. Mark Hanna is an ISU Extension and Outreach Agricultural Engineer. She will also talk about planter settings and managing row crops planted into cover crops.”

Michael Henderson, Area 1 Agronomist with Natural Resources Conversation Service, will also be discussing cost share options and crop insurance considerations when integrating cover crops into a row crop system.

Following the Allee field day, producers may travel to the Mark Schleisman Farm located at 1635 365th Street, Lake City, for a complimentary lunch and the afternoon field day from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Cover Crop Planting and Grazing Strategies for Cow-Calf Production

Further, the afternoon portion will focus on cover crop planting and grazing strategies for cow-calf production; cover crop economics; herbicide considerations for grazing and establishing cover crops; and soil compaction.

There is no cost for either field day thanks to the sponsorship of ISU Extension and Outreach, the Iowa Beef Center, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Practical Farmers of America; however, individuals RSVP please.

For more information, visit the Iowa Beef Center website.

Practical Farmers of Iowa: Lake City Grazing Cover Crop Field Day
Apr 11 @ 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Grazing Cover Crops Field Day in Lake City, Iowa

Practical Farmers of Iowa will host a cover crop grazing field day on Tuesday, April 11, from noon to 3 p.m., near Lake City (1635 365th St., a few miles west of town), at the farm of Mark Schleisman.

Mark farms more than 2,000 acres at M & M Farms, a diversified family farm that includes corn, soybeans, popcorn, popcorn-field-corn hybrid seed, hogs and a cow-calf operation. The family uses cover crops on at least 1,000 acres.

Click here to learn more about cover crops and other solutions at work.

The event – “Grazing Cover Crops” – is free to attend and will start with lunch, supplied by Mark, from noon to 12:30 p.m. Please RSVP for the meal to Alisha Bower, alisha@practicalfarmers.org or (515) 232-5661.

Further, the event is part of Practical Farmers’ 2017 spring cover crop “caravan” field day series, which features events at locations across Iowa exploring cover crop issues in grazing and row crop systems.

After lunch, guests will then head to the field to see Mark’s cows and calves grazing a mix of diverse cover crops planted in late summer 2016.

Planting and Grazing Strategies with Cover Crops

Mark will also share his experience with planting and grazing strategies; cover crops as a nutritional forage source; how he deals with compaction from cattle; and the economic benefits of grazing covers.

“In addition to the soil benefits, grazing cover crops has been a valuable source of fall, winter and spring cow feed,” Mark says.

Producers are also invited to attend a related field day in the morning – “Successful Cover Crop Use in Beef Production” – from 9:30-11:30 a.m., hosted by ISU Extension at the ISU Allee Demonstration Farm near Newell (2030 640th St., about 34 miles northwest of Mark’s farm).

The event is free and will focus on using stocker cattle to graze cereal rye, among other topics.

Directions to M & M Farms: Mark’s farm is located 3 miles west of Lake City on IA Hwy 175, or 4.5 miles east of Auburn on IA Hwy 175; the farm is at the top of the hill on the south side.

Visit PFI’s site for more information.

Southfork Watershed Alliance Meeting in Iowa Falls, IA | IAWA @ Hardin County Extension
Apr 11 @ 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Southfork Watershed Alliance Meeting

The Southfork Watershed Alliance’s Mission: “To protect, preserve and enhance the natural resources of the watershed of the South Fork of the Iowa River and its tributaries through voluntary and community support.“
The Alliance has raised initial seed money from both private and public sectors to initiate long-term planning. Also there is money for the staff to build relationships with stakeholders involved in the partnership. Also to assist in the development of conservation practices. The ultimate success of the project is dependent on effective partnerships – grassroots partners working to identify problems and encourage the near-term implementation of soil and nutrient management practices – a true cooperative effort toward a common goal. 

Southfork Watershed Alliance Background

The South Fork of the Iowa River is one of Iowa’s most picturesque streams. This tributary together contains some of Iowa’s most productive land. The watershed area is predominately used for intensive agricultural production – both row crop and livestock. There are concerns about water quality in this watershed. Primarily, as a result of the impact of agricultural production and management practices of the watershed.

The Southfork Watershed Alliance represents a broad cross-section of the watershed’s agriculture business, governmental and community leaders who address water quality issues in the watershed in a comprehensive manner. The members of these working groups believe it is critically important to address water quality issues. On a proactive and voluntary basis, we must address these issues. The health of the watershed has significant long-term economic and quality of life implications for the area and its residents. Grassroots effort designed to identify problems and encourage the near-term implementation of soil and nutrient best management practices will serve our area better than any top-down plan.

Clear Creek Watershed Coalition
Apr 19 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Clear Creek Watershed Coalition quarterly meeting

more info: