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

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

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig Webinar

Iowa Learning Farms hosted a webinar on Wednesday with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. Secretary Naig discussed conservation adoption successes, water quality initiatives, and his vision for expanding a culture of conservation in Iowa during the webinar.

Even with the difficulties posed by the pandemic, 2020 was a record year for conservation adoption in Iowa. Secretary Naig explained that the success of soil health and water quality initiatives will depend on a multi-faceted approach, which will take into account the diverse landscapes across the state. He also discussed scaling up rural and urban Iowa Water Quality Initiative projects. Secretary Naig highlighted that 44 wetlands were under development in 2020, when it had previously taken about 15 years to build 100 wetlands across the state. In 2020 there were also 45 bioreactors and saturated buffers under development and 2.18 million acres of cover crops planted.

To learn more about Secretary Naig’s vision for conservation and water quality in Iowa, watch the full webinar!

Join us on Wednesday, April 14 for the webinar, “Cyclone Soil Health Sweepstakes Showcase.”

Hilary Pierce

April 7 Webinar: Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig

Iowa Learning Farms will host a webinar on Wednesday, April 7 at noon with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig.

Secretary Naig will discuss conservation, water quality, and his vision for Iowa during the webinar. He will also discuss the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and explain how Iowans are working to meet the nitrogen and phosphorus loss reductions outlined in the Strategy.

Webinar participants will be able to submit questions for Secretary Naig during the webinar through the Zoom software.

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CDT on April 7:

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.

Hilary Pierce

March 24 Webinar: Economic Considerations on Cover Crop Adoption

Learn about the economics of cover crops during the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, March 24 at noon.

Alejandro Plastina, associate professor and extension economist at Iowa State University, will address the profitability of winter cover crops in Iowa from the producer’s perspective, based on agronomic experiments and surveys of farmers. Plastina will also present two decision tools that can be used to calculate farmers’ own expected net returns on cover crops.

The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the relative costs of nitrate leaching abatement through cover crops borne by farmers and taxpayers, and a brief discussion on why it is too early to think about monetizing soil health improvements.

“Cover crops are a good farming practice, but they are only profitable for a small percentage of farms,” said Plastina. “Webinar participants will learn how they are able to use a decision tool to calculate their expected net returns on cover crops.”

Dr. Plastina’s research and extension program focuses on farm business and financial management, with a particular emphasis on the economics of conservation practices.

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CDT on March 24:

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

March 10 Webinar: Cropping System Diversification is a Path to Greater Sustainability

Learn about the benefits of cropping system diversification during the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, March 10 at noon.  

Dr. Matt Liebman, professor of agronomy and H. A. Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University (ISU), will share the results of a long-term study at the ISU Marsden Farm. The results of this study indicate that diversification of conventional corn-soybean systems with small grains and forage legumes, coupled with integration with livestock production, can allow for large reductions in the use of fertilizers and herbicides and lead to less environmental damage, equivalent profitability, improved soil quality, and higher crop productivity.

“There’s a lot to be gained from diversifying cropping practices. Across many different countries, for many different climates and soils types, with many different crops, the general pattern is that with diversification, you maintain or increase crop yields while gaining environmental benefits,” said Liebman. “More than 80% of Iowa’s cropland is used to produce just two crops: corn and soybean. That limits what can be accomplished with regard to environmental quality. In many cases, it also limits crop yields and increases requirements for purchased inputs like fertilizer and pesticides.”

Liebman’s research, teaching, and outreach activities focus on ways to use ecological processes for reducing reliance on fertilizers, pesticides, and fossil fuels while increasing agricultural productivity and better protecting soil, water, and wildlife.

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CST on March 10:

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

February 17 Webinar: Nutrient Retention Capacity of Newly Restored Wetlands in Southwestern Ontario

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, February 17, will highlight research being done on the nutrient retention capacity of newly restored wetlands in Ontario, Canada.

Wetlands have been identified as natural infrastructure to help protect downstream water quality. However, wetland drainage has resulted in widespread loss of wetlands across the rural working landscape of southwestern Ontario, Canada. Bryan Page, research biologist with Ducks Unlimited Canada, will report on the first year of results investigating the nutrient retention capacity of newly restored wetlands in the Canadian portion of the Lake Erie watershed.

“In settled areas of Canada, up to 70% of our wetlands have already been destroyed or degraded. As they continuous to disappear, so too do the many benefits they provide,” said Page. “Newly restored wetlands retain nutrients on the landscape and help protect our lakes.”

Page received his B.Sc. majoring in Environmental Science and his M.Sc. in Chemistry both at the University of Manitoba. Since he joined Ducks Unlimited Canada’s Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research in 2008, his research has focused on the behavior of nutrients in restored, constructed, and intact wetlands across the prairie pothole region and southwestern Ontario.

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CST on February 17:

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

February 3 Webinar: Electricity as Weed Management for the Future

The use of electricity to manage herbicide-resistant weeds is the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, February 3 at noon.

The movement to farm more sustainably coincides with developments in technology to produce higher value agricultural products. Levi Lyle, a Washington County farmer, will explain how electricity can be used as an effective weed management tool against herbicide-resistant weeds.

With thousands of acres logged behind the wheel of his Weed Zapper implement, Lyle will share how electricity performs in crops, such as soybean, potatoes, flax, sunflowers, and more. Participants will learn of how effectively electricity can terminate waterhemp, giant ragweed, marestail, burdock, foxtail, velvetleaf, thistle, bindweed, and even alfalfa and CRP brome.

“Safety features of the modern high voltage weed-zappers instill confidence in their use as a chemical alternative,” said Lyle. “Prepare to be inspired.”

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CST on February 3:

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

January 20 Webinar: Around the World in 80 Bioreactors

How bioreactors are being used to address water quality issues around the world is the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, January 20 at noon.

Denitrifying woodchip bioreactors are promoted in the U.S. Midwest to clean nitrate from tile drainage, but did you know that they are also being tested around the world for a variety of applications?

Challenges involving agriculture, nitrogen, and water are not unique to our region. Join Dr. Laura Christianson, assistant professor, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois, for this “stay-cation” to learn more about how bioreactors are being used at (almost) 80 stops around the globe.

“Clean water is important no matter where you are in the world. Woodchip bioreactors are helping farmers achieve agricultural water quality goals in many places,” said Dr. Christianson. “They’re not a silver bullet but can be a powerful tool, especially when we learn from global neighbors.

Dr. Christianson does applied research and outreach on agricultural water quality, with a particular emphasis on denitrifying woodchip bioreactors.

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CST on January 20:

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