Iowa farmer Blake Hollis prefers to be part of the water quality solution. While the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit on farm-sourced nitrogen in watersheds that lead to the Raccoon River have drawn controversy, efforts to the east where Hollis farms are drawing praise...and money....More
“We saw a consistent benefit of strip-till over no-till for these soils we were working with,” says Fabián Fernández, University of Minnesota. For those soils where strip-till would be appropriate, it can be a powerful method that benefits the soil by both working to help conserve soil and improving soil physical properties....More
Some farmers want to try a new idea on a few acres to evaluate it before using it in a big way. Not Robert Harvey––at least when the idea is cover crops. The Guthrie County, Iowa, farmer went all-in on cover crops two years ago, seeding cereal rye on all 1,100 acres he farms with his father, Gerald....More
These days, more than ever, farmers are being held accountable, and even scrutinized, for their sustainable and conservation efforts. Strip-till, cover crops, water quality, drainage management, soil health and more are at the forefront of the forward-thinking farmers across the U.S....More
Conservation is a priority for John Traub, who farms in the Indian Creek Watershed in east central Illinois. He's not afraid to try new strategies, including planting cover crops. But so far, they have not provided the benefits he knows other farmers have seen from the practice. "We struggled with tillage radishes and turnips as cover crops. It was difficult to get them established early enough. Even flying seed in did not work," says the Fairbury, Ill., corn and soybean farmer. "You need early growth. Our season is just too short."...More
Old stream channels are helping to clean up farm drainage water in north central Iowa. Restored oxbows in the Boone River Watershed reduced nitrate concentrations in tile water by about 50%, according to water monitoring data gathered by the Iowa Soybean Association....More
Have you moved beyond basic conservation tillage toward more sustainable practices like strip-till or no-till? Do you grow cover crops? Have you taken steps to reduce soil loss or improve water quality? Share your accomplishments, and you may win a Conservation Legacy Award....More
Eighty-four percent of farmers who took the cover crop survey planted some cover crops and 16% have not. The survey sheds light on farmers’ motivations for planting cover crops, their expectations of the benefits, users’ concerns about cover crops and barriers to adoption among non-users.
Of the 1,248 farmers who responded to the National Cover Crop Survey, 84% planted some cover crops and 16% have not. The survey sheds light on farmers’ motivations for planting cover crops, their expectations of the benefits, users’ concerns about cover crops and barriers to adoption among non-users....More
Nitrate management in tile water is a big reason why this water control structure has slowly gained a foothold in the Corn Belt, but its potential for providing timely water to corn and soybeans may spell the future for this underground tile water management tool....More
Farm improvements grew out of a voluntary environmental self-assessment, which helped Nathan Collins and his brother Sean judge the effects of their farming practices on water and soil quality. The self-assessment, called Green Star Farms Initiative, is a free, Web-based tool that asks farmers to rate their stewardship practices for crops, livestock and farmstead management....More
In the 5 ag stories to read this week, read about what's causing striping on corn leaves and get some tips for applying soil residual herbicides to emerged corn. Share your cover crop challenges and get our best crop scouting tips and ideas. Finally, enjoy some fun dairy facts for National Dairy Month.
The full extent of damage from flooding and saturated soils cannot be seen until the corn plant has a chance to recover. Knowing what factors affect damage and survivability, and what signs to look for when assessing plant health will help you make the best decision for the long term success of your corn crop....More
On Wednesday, the EPA finalized the Clean Water Rule, ensuring "waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined and predictably determined, making permitting less costly, easier, and faster for businesses and industry....More
The 5 ag stories to read this week reminds growers to scout for cutworms and slugs, and shows that healthier soil will capture and hold more water. Read about the most recent farm labor rates and wages and learn how weed stress will impact corn genetics as the growing season progresses. Finally, enjoy a meeting of the farm field and baseball field.
"I can't make it rain, but I can do my best to capture and keep what I have to use it for my crops," says Arliss Nielsen, a Wright County, Iowa, no-tiller. This year he took the unusual step of venturing into controlled drainage....More
The eighth annual Conservation in Action Tour, organized by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), will explore innovative conservation farming practices and productive partnerships in southeastern Minnesota on August 11 and 12, 2015. ...More
We will continue to strive, as an information provider, to present you with good examples that help you make the most of your 40 chances. As Howard wrote in his book, “You’ve learned from your mistakes, but I’d guess that none of you feel you can afford to take a single year left on your string for granted.” We wholeheartedly agree....More
April 22 is Earth Day in 2015. In recent years, it has become quite common to point the finger of blame at agriculture production and farmers for many of the environmental issues we are facing in the United States. However, in reality, farmers have been some of the best environmental stewards in the U.S. in the past few decades....More
When it comes to conservation, small prairie strips make a big difference in surface runoff. And not just any strips: ones designed, contoured and placed according to scientific criteria developed over seven years by Iowa State University (ISU) researchers....More
It's up to farmers themselves to take the lead and tell their own conservation story at the grassroots level. Right now, we're letting others tell our story for us. It’s time for farmers to regain control of the public perception battle by standing up and speaking out on their conservation efforts....More
More than half of Iowans surveyed agreed that agriculture has some negative impacts on the environment, and two-thirds indicated that they’d support a shift toward a targeted conservation approach to minimize these negative effects, while also benefiting agricultural landscapes. ...More
The 5 ag stories to read this week brings you the latest on proposed regulations for drones. Learn about the value of lost organic matter due to erosion, and meet farmers who are using websites to get more business. Read about canceling land rent contracts, and a positive article from The New York Times featuring a no-till farmer.
I have been an educator of soils at the University of Minnesota Extension for 18 years. I have watched soil scientist retire, leave to other positions or pass away. Due to tight budgets or changes in priorities, many are not replaced. So please help me cultivate the next generation of soil scientists. There are websites with creative and scientific resources for teaching soils. Give it a try. Remember: Soil is not a dirty word!...More