May 5 Webinar: Can Small Grain, Soybean Relay Intercropping Be Successful in Iowa?

Succeeding with small grain, soybean relay intercropping in Iowa is the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar at noon on Wednesday, May 5.

Small grain, soybean relay intercropping is the next step after using small grains for cover crops. Mark Licht, assistant professor and extension cropping systems specialist at Iowa State University, will explain this practice and its benefits. Relay intercropping is a way to extend active plant growth after corn and before soybean to achieve soil health and nutrient loss reduction benefits similar to soybean. Growth of the small grain crop is extended through seed production to also provide economic value, which is a missed opportunity when small grains are used solely as a cover crop.

Small grain seed production can be used for livestock feed rations and niche food markets. While soybean and wheat production considered individually may be slightly lower compared to optimized sole crop production, a relay intercropping system results in greater land use equivalency.

“Relay intercropping is a system that has potential to be used across Iowa in an effort to diversify and provide resiliency to cropping systems,” said Licht. “While relay intercropping can be more risky, using a relay intercropping system can diversify farm income while providing soil health and nutrient loss reduction benefits.”

Licht’s research focuses on corn and soybean production systems and ways to incorporate conservation practices into those systems.

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CDT on May 5:

Click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser: https://iastate.zoom.us/j/364284172

    Or, go to https://iastate.zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID: 364 284 172 

Or, join from a dial-in phone line:

    Dial: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923

    Meeting ID: 364 284 172

The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time. Archived webinars are available at https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars.

A Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit (CEU) has been applied for, for those who are able to participate in the live webinar. Information about how to apply to receive the credit will be provided at the end of the live webinar.

Hilary Pierce

Cover Crops and Pheasant Nesting in Iowa’s Ag-Dominated Landscape

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday highlighted research being done on where pheasants nest and how to better manage areas to make them optimal for nesting. Taylor Shirley, a graduate research assistant at Iowa State University, discussed findings from a recent study on pheasant nesting in southeastern Iowa. The research sought to determine where pheasants are nesting, why they choose certain nest sites, and how to make cover crops more attractive to nesting pheasants.

This research project was carried out in Washington County, Iowa, due to the county having a high level of cover crop adoption and a large abundance of pheasants. Nest searches and vegetation surveys were carried out in three cover types: fall-seeded cover crops, native warm season grasses, and cool season grasses. More nests were found in the native warm season grass sites compared to the cover crop and the cool season grass sites. Visual concealment of the nests by the vegetation was an important factor in nest site selection, with more nests being found where there was higher litter cover and higher visual obstruction readings during the vegetation surveys.

The cover crop sites had the lowest amount of litter cover and the lowest visual obstruction reading, meaning that there are opportunities to manage these sites differently if attracting more pheasants is a goal. Management strategies that could improve cover crops as a nesting site for pheasants include earlier planting and later termination of the cover crop to allow for more growth and relay cropping to allow for more spring cover leading to better nest concealment.

To learn more about where pheasants choose to nest and how cover crops could be managed to be more attractive to nesting pheasants, watch the full webinar!

Join us next week, on Wednesday, May 5, for the webinar, “Can Small Grain, Soybean Relay Intercropping Be Successful in Iowa?” with Mark Licht, assistant professor and extension cropping systems specialist at Iowa State University.

Hilary Pierce

Corn after a Cereal Rye Cover Crop in 2021

Original Post: Mark Licht , April 2021; Integrated Crop Management News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

With cool weather conditions potentially causing delays in cover crop termination, what options are available? 

Cereal rye ahead of soybean is not nearly as problematic. While planting green may not be advised for beginning cover crop users, more experienced cover crop users have planted soybean into green cereal rye.

There are two main considerations. First, make sure the planter is setup properly for the seedbed conditions. This means making sure row unit down pressure is adequate to ensure proper seed placement depth, and the closing wheels are fully closing the seed furrow. Second, is to terminate the cereal rye soon after soybean planting. I am recommending cereal rye be terminated soon after soybean planting this year because, at present, dry conditions are prevailing across much of the state.

For cereal rye ahead of corn, terminating more than 10 to 14 days ahead of corn planting is preferable. There are reports ‘yellow’ cereal rye can cause wrapping in the residue cleaners. Whatever the termination timing, there will likely be increased implications associated with seedling disease, allelopathy, and nitrogen cycling.

Two recent blogs (blog 1blog 2) from Alison Robertson’s lab tell that temporal and spatial distancing of cereal rye and corn reduced the severity of Pythium seedling infection and mitigated yield loss. Lab studies have also demonstrated that allelochemicals may interact with Pythium to cause more severe seedling disease (Acharya et al. 2021). However, we have a poor understanding of the allelopathic affect in the field. It almost certainly can reduce corn seedling vigor and can be minimized by with more time between cereal rye termination and corn planting. There are also several potential impacts involving nitrogen availability for the corn seedling. We know that cereal rye will take up soil nitrate, and recycle soil nitrogen at some time throughout the growing season. The decomposition of cereal rye immobilizes soil nitrogen in the short-term, and more nitrogen is immobilized if the cereal rye had begun jointing at or before termination.

This year it is likely that corn will be planted green or the termination to planting timeframe will be narrow. Based on our experience, the amount of cereal rye biomass may make a difference. More biomass relates to more severe disease, allelopathy, and nitrogen implications. If the cereal rye is less than 8 inches the risk of nitrogen immobilization and disease infection should be minimal. If the cereal rye is greater than 12 inches consider increasing the corn seeding rate 5 to 10 percent to counteract potential stand loss due to Pythium seedling mortality. All corn seed is treated with fungicides; check your seed label to see what fungicides are on your seed. Mefenoxam, metalaxyl and ethaboxam are fungicides that have excellent efficacy against Pythium. Pyraclostrobin, azoxystrobin and trifloxystrobin also have some activity. Using Priaxor in-furrow could help minimize seedling disease. While Priaxor is labeled for in-furrow applications, there is no public research that we know of that has tested Priaxor under this type of situation. And finally, consider using starter nitrogen and/or applying the remainder of your nitrogen program at an early vegetative stage to ensure sufficient nitrogen supply. Keep in mind that John Sawyer and others have found that corn following cereal rye does not justify a higher nitrogen rate.

April 28 Webinar: Cover Crops and Pheasant Nesting in Iowa’s Ag-Dominated Landscape

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar at noon on Wednesday, April 28, will highlight research being done on where pheasants nest and how to better manage areas to make them optimal for nesting.

During the webinar, Taylor Shirley, a graduate research assistant at Iowa State University, will discuss findings from a recent study conducted by Iowa State University on pheasant nesting in southeastern Iowa. Shirley will explore where pheasants choose to nest, what characteristics make an area optimal for nesting, and how areas can be managed to better meet the needs of nesting pheasants.

“Agriculture is a big part of Iowa’s landscape and many farmers and landowners are implementing practices to improve water and soil health. Many people also enjoy seeing pheasants and hope to bring populations up to the numbers we once had,” said Shirley. “In this presentation, we’ll explore how agronomic practices like cover crops may help meet these goals.”

Shirley’s research focuses on the intersection of agriculture and wildlife conservation by exploring how cover crops may provide nesting cover for pheasants in Iowa.

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CDT on April 28:

Click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser: https://iastate.zoom.us/j/364284172

    Or, go to https://iastate.zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID: 364 284 172 

Or, join from a dial-in phone line:

    Dial: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923

    Meeting ID: 364 284 172

The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time. Archived webinars are available at https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars.

A Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit (CEU) has been applied for, for those who are able to participate in the live webinar. Information about how to apply to receive the credit will be provided at the end of the live webinar.

Hilary Pierce

Kicking Off the 2021 Conservation Station Outreach Season With Soil and Water Conservation Week!

Happy Soil and Water Conservation Week! The Conservation Station season is just around the corner and our team has been busy getting the fleet ready to roll.

Each of our trailers houses a unique combination of highly visual and interactive Iowa-centric demonstrations that delve into the impacts of land management choices, both urban and agricultural, on water quality and the connections between our state’s water, soil, and wildlife. We are looking forward to the launch of our newest trailer this spring highlighting the importance of wetlands!

The 2021 Conservation Station experience will certainly be different from past years—just as all facets of our lives have changed with COVID-19. Conservation Station team members will wear face coverings and practice physical distancing, as per Iowa State University policy, and will include audio amplification for improved audio accessibility. All Conservation Station activities are being closely evaluated and adapted to ensure that they can be delivered safely and effectively.

We look forward to seeing you this summer at an event near you! The season kicks off on May 1st and we will be updating our calendar for summer events soon, so be sure to check back for updates.

Liz Ripley

Benefits of Organic Farming in Terms of Soil and Water Quality

During the webinar on Wednesday, Dr. Kathleen Delate, professor in the departments of agronomy and horticulture at Iowa State University, shared research results that show greater soil and water quality benefits in organic systems with longer crop rotations, when compared to conventional corn-soybean rotations.

Iowa is one of the largest producers of organic grains and demand for organic crops is continuing to increase. The practice standard set forth by the USDA National Organic Program instructs producers to utilize tillage and cultivation practices that maintain or improve the soil and minimize soil erosion. The standard also states that the producer must manage plant and animal materials in a way that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by nutrients and other substances.

Dr. Delate shared soil and water data that has been collected to compare organic farming to conventional farming practices. The results of the studies show that the organic sites have less nitrate leaching, increased amounts of soil organic carbon, and larger beneficial soil microbe populations. Research is also being done into organic no-till and this is a promising combination, but more research is necessary. Dr. Delate also emphasized the importance of integrating livestock into organic systems.

To learn more about organic farming and the results of these studies, watch the full webinar!

Join us on Wednesday, April 28, for the webinar “Cover Crops and Pheasant Nesting in Iowa’s Ag-Dominated Landscape,” presented by Taylor Shirley, a graduate research assistant at Iowa State University.

Hilary Pierce

To terminate or not to terminate?

Original Post: Bob Hartzler, April 15, 2021; Integrated Crop Management News, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Current cool temperatures increase the risk of failures in terminating cover crops. While cereal rye continues to grow during these conditions, activity of herbicides is reduced. Translocation of glyphosate to growing points is reduced under cool temperatures, slowing activity and increasing the potential for control failures. It is generally recommended to avoid applications when nighttime temperatures fall below 40 F, and we prefer temperatures at application to be at least in the mid-50s with clear skies. Based on current forecasts, herbicide applications to terminate in many areas of the state should be delayed until more favorable conditions exist.

In situations where termination cannot be delayed, the following steps can reduce the risk of control failures:

1) Increase glyphosate rate from what is normally used.
2) Use appropriate rates of AMS and surfactants.
3) Evaluate the potential for tank-mix partners to reduce glyphosate activity such as preemergence herbicides with significant foliar activity. Also, the addition of UAN as a carrier can reduce the absorption and activity of glyphosate.

Successful termination of cover crops is critical due to their competitiveness with crops. Under ideal conditions the effectiveness of glyphosate allows considerable flexibility in application parameters. However, with current cool conditions make appropriate modifications to maximize the likelihood of success. In situations where there is significant survival, delay follow-up treatments until new growth is present. That delay may be more than 1-2 weeks during cool conditions. By the appropriate time for retreatment, temperatures should be favorable for better herbicidal activity.

Glyphosate effectiveness during less than optimum conditions is affected by many factors. In this field the sprayer tracks reduced rye control when applied during cool temperatures.

April 21 Webinar: Benefits of Organic Farming in Terms of Soil and Water Quality

Soil health and water quality benefits associated with organic farming will be the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar at noon on Wednesday, April 21.

Dr. Kathleen Delate, professor in the departments of agronomy and horticulture at Iowa State University, will share research results that show greater soil and water quality benefits in organic systems with longer crop rotations, when compared to conventional corn-soybean rotations. Small grains and perennial legume species, like alfalfa, are integral to supporting greater soil microbial populations and aggregate stability. Certified organic production requires the use of slower-release forms of nitrogen, which are associated with less nitrate loading and improved water quality.

“Returns have been negative in conventional row crop farming in recent years—alternatives that consist of longer crop rotations with lower inputs and improved soil and water quality need to be explored,” said Dr. Delate, who is responsible for research, extension, and teaching in organic agriculture at Iowa State University. “Give organics a go. You might be surprised to see how your soil changes and how many more pollinators and beneficial insects show up on your farm!”

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CDT on April 21:

Click this URL, or type this web address into your internet browser: https://iastate.zoom.us/j/364284172

    Or, go to https://iastate.zoom.us/join and enter meeting ID: 364 284 172 

Or, join from a dial-in phone line:

    Dial: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923

    Meeting ID: 364 284 172

The webinar will also be recorded and archived on the ILF website, so that it can be watched at any time. Archived webinars are available at https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars.

A Certified Crop Adviser board-approved continuing education unit (CEU) has been applied for, for those who are able to participate in the live webinar. Information about how to apply to receive the credit will be provided at the end of the live webinar.

Hilary Pierce

Congratulations to our Cyclone Soil Health Sweepstakes Winners!

Held during the spring 2021 semester, the Cyclone Soil Health Sweepstakes invited current students at Iowa State University to form a team of creative minds and produce an original 3 – 5 minute video that demonstrates the importance of soil health to a specified audience. The competition allowed teams to apply their soil health studies and take an innovative approach to soil health education and outreach. Be sure to check out their videos using the links below or by visiting our Facebook page.

1st Place: Abbie Van Raden – Senior in Animal Ecology, Kari Jeffrey – Junior in Animal Ecology, and Heather King – Junior in Animal Ecology; ISU Environmental Education Club

2nd Place and People’s Choice: Jacob Schultz – Senior in Agronomy and Meyer Bohn – Graduate Student in Soil Genesis and Morphology; ISU Soil Judging Team

3rd Place: Jacob Handel – Senior in Environmental Science, Robyn Byl – Senior in Agronomy, and Amber Anderson – Graduate Student in Agronomy; ISU Soil Judging Team

Liz Ripley