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

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

Incorporating Conservation Practices Into Your Farm Lease

During the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, Charles Brown, farm management specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, discussed the importance of conservation practices and what landowners should include in their lease to protect their farmland. Brown shared his own experience of using cover crops on his farm in Wapello County and the benefits of the practice, including weed management and improved soil health.

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When considering including conservation practices, like cover crops, in a lease agreement, the landlord and the tenant need to discuss their options and come up with a course of action. The landlord should decide what they could do to encourage the use of conservation practices on their land, such as longer leases for tenants who plan to use cover crops or other conservation practices. Together with the tenant, they also need to determine a backup plan and who will pay for conservation practices. Another consideration is a clause in the lease agreement for depreciating costs of practices, particularly in cases where the tenant may be paying for practice installation. Brown emphasized the importance of having a written lease agreement and highlighted several key sources of additional information:

To learn more about incorporating conservation practices into a farm lease, watch the full webinar!

Join us on Wednesday, March 24 at noon for the webinar “Economic Considerations on Cover Crop Adoption,” presented by Alejandro Plastina, associate professor and extension economist at Iowa State University.

Hilary Pierce

March 17 Webinar: Incorporating Conservation Practices Into Your Farm Lease

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, March 17 at noon, will focus on how to incorporate conservation practices into a farm lease agreement.  

Charles Brown, farm management specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will discuss the importance of conservation practices and what landowners should include in their lease to protect their farmland. Participants will learn how costs may be shared for certain conservation practices.

“Every landowner should be concerned about our water quality and soil erosion,” said Brown. “Conservation practices can be a win/win for both the landowner and the tenant.”

As an extension farm management specialist, Brown works with farmers to construct farm leases and protect their farmland. He also uses conservation practices on his own farm.

Webinar Access Instructions

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

Cropping System Diversification is a Path to Greater Sustainability

The Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday featured results of a long-term study on the impacts of cropping system diversification at the Iowa State University (ISU) Marsden Farm. Dr. Matt Liebman, professor of agronomy and H. A. Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU, shared the results of this study, which indicate that diversification of conventional corn-soybean systems with small grains and forage legumes, coupled with integration with livestock production, has many benefits. Cropping system diversification 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.

This study at the Marsden Farm involved a two-year rotation of corn-soybean and four-year rotation of corn-soybean-oat/alfalfa-alfalfa that was coupled with the integration of manure fertilizer. All of the phases of each rotation are present every year, so each phase is affected by the same weather conditions and other factors each year. Baseline sampling was completed in 2001 and 2002, with the mature period of the study occurring from 2006 to present. From 2008 – 2019, the four-year rotation showed an 85% reduction in mean annual nitrogen fertilizer use and a 50% reduction in mean annual herbicide use, compared to the two-year rotation.

In addition to the reduced fertilizer and herbicide inputs, the four-year rotation also had higher yields of corn and soybean compared to the two-year rotation. Another benefit of the diverse rotation was seen in 2010 when soybean sudden death syndrome was prevalent, due to the infestation of a soil-borne fungus that affects soybean roots and sends a toxin up to the leaves. Yield losses can be severe from this disease. It was observed that the soybean crop in the four-year rotation in 2010 was healthier than the soybean in the two-year rotation that year. This indicates that the diverse cropping system contributed to lower incidence and severity of the disease in the four-year rotation soybean crop.

The diverse rotation reduced costs and did not affect crop profitability during the study. Another benefit of the four-year rotation was decreased soil resistance to penetration, which allows corn roots to more quickly penetrate the soil to access water and nutrients. Models were used to evaluate other environmental effects and found that diversification reduced fossil energy use, pollution, and damage to human health related to air quality.

To learn more about this research project and the benefits of cropping system diversification, watch the full webinar!

Join us next week, on Wednesday, March 17 at noon, for the webinar “Incorporating Conservation Practices Into Your Farm Lease,” presented by Charles Brown, farm management specialist, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

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 24 Webinar: Silvo-what?: Exploring Opportunities for Livestock with Silvopasture Management

Silvopasture management is the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, February 24.

Silvopasture is an agroforestry practice that involves intentionally managing livestock, trees, and forage in the same productive space. There are several strategies to implementing silvopasture, and the wide variety of strategies depends on the space, animals, and trees being managed. During this webinar, Ashley Conway, PhD, PAS, assistant research professor at the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, will provide a brief introduction to silvopasture management.

“Despite being a very old practice, silvopasture is gaining mainstream momentum as a way to raise livestock that enhances economic and environmental resiliency,” said Conway. She hopes webinar participants will gain a strong understanding of what silvopasture is, and also what does not constitute a silvopasture system. 

Conway is working to develop a research program investigating the logistical, economic, environmental, and social dynamics of silvopasture systems in Missouri and the Midwest through the lens of efficient and responsible animal production. 

Webinar Access Instructions

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

Electricity as Weed Management for the Future

During the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, Levi Lyle, a Washington County farmer, explained how electricity can be used as an effective weed management tool against herbicide-resistant weeds.

Lyle shared his experience using a Weed Zapper implement, both on his own farm and doing custom work for others. The Weed Zapper uses electricity to kill weeds that have grown above the crop canopy, and is particularly effective in soybean fields.

The Weed Zapper in action

Lyle explained some of the safety features of the implement that he uses, including that the machine will not run if the operator is not seated and that when the temperature gets too high, the operator will be forced to stop and let the machine the cool down. These features can help reduce the risks that were previously associated with using electricity for weed management. Electricity can effectively manage herbicide-resistant weeds, while also lowering input costs associated with herbicide application.

To learn more about how electricity can be used to manage herbicide-resistant weeds, watch the full webinar here!

Join us on Wednesday, February 10 for the webinar “Exploring Iowa’s Aquatic Wildlife Diversity” with Adam Janke, extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State University.

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 6 Webinar: Improving Farm Profitability with Precision Conservation

How to improve farm profitability with the use of precision conservation will be the topic of the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on Wednesday, January 6 at noon.

Precision agricultural (ag) technology can inform many management decisions on the farm, including identifying underperforming acres. In these low-yielding acres, conservation can improve profitability and result in increased return-on-investment.

During this webinar, Josh Divan, precision ag & conservation specialist at Iowa Pheasants Forever, will discuss how precision conservation can increase profitability, improve wildlife habitat, build soil health, increase water quality, and improve resiliency.

“By looking at your farm data through a profitability lens, you can better understand where you have financial risk in your farm operation. Developing a plan that minimizes that risk, while simultaneously increasing your profitability is the goal of precision conservation,” said Divan.

Divan works with farmers and their precision ag data to first identify unprofitable acres within their operation and then helps them understand how laser-focused conservation programs on those “red” acres can improve their bottom line.

Webinar Access Instructions

To participate in the live webinar, shortly before 12 pm CST on January 6:

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 approved 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