Protecting our soil – a finite resource

ILFHeader(15-year)Why bother changing your tillage system?

That’s the exact question Brent Larson and his family asked themselves about 10 years ago as they considered using a no-till and strip-till system in their Webster County farming operation.

IMG_0048Answer: Fertile topsoil is a finite resources!

“Recreational tillage, especially ahead of soybeans, is depleting our topsoil and organic matter,” stated Larson. “We realized tilling wasn’t helping or necessary. So we switched to no-till soybeans and strip-till for corn about 10 years ago and added cover crops about 8 years ago.”

By reducing their tillage, Larson and his family were able to save time and reduce input costs like fuel, labor and equipment costs. This ultimately has increased net income and puts less money on the line each year.

An additional benefit of their system is the protection from soil erosion, improved soil structure and drainage.

LichtBlog-01“We want to grow our soil – saving the soil from erosion is the first step. We want to make sure that not only can we farm this land for the next 40+ years, but so can future generations to come. Soil erosion is insidious! It is can be difficult to see, making it easy to ignore in the short term,” commented Larson.

Larson also works as a farm manager for Sunderman Farm Management and shared some parting advice to farmers and landowners, alike.

“Surround yourself with can-do people, not can’t do people. Communication between landowners and tenant is key to protect the soil and implement conservation. Take that first step and bring the topic up in your next conversation. Determine your goals and make a plan to achieve them!”


If you weren’t able to attend this event, there are more opportunities to attend one of our upcoming field days!

April 9 – Cover Crop and Water Quality Field Day
5:00-7:00PM

Rob Stout Farm
2449 Hemlock Ave
Washington, IA 52353
Washington County
RSVP: 515-294-5429 or ilf@iastate.edu
Press Release
Flyer

April 10 – Cover Crop and No-Till Workshop
12:00-2:00pm
Steier Ag Aviation
202 190th St
Whittemore, IA 50598
Kossuth County
RSVP: 515-294-5429 or ilf@iastate.edu
Press Release
Flyer

Liz Juchems

 

#NoTillb4Beans and #CoverYourBeans: Doing Less, Earning More

ILFHeaderHow can doing less earn you more?

Mark Licht discussed how you can do just that by making the transition to no-till soybean and adding a cover crop ahead of soybeans during our Iowa Learning Farms webinar yesterday.

Compared to conventional systems with a fall and spring tillage pass, no-till can lower input costs by about $30, while also saving the time not running the equipment. By lowering input costs overall profit per acre can be increased by nearly 17%, according to a 10 year research study at seven ISU research farms.

NTBB-Slide-1-01

No-till can also significantly reduce soil erosion and phosphorus loss, compared to chisel plowing.  That same 10 year study, showed a 90% reduction in phosphorus loss.

Cover crops also help reduce soil erosion and phosphorus loss, while also reducing nitrogen losses from the landscape. Mark noted that cover crops are an easy entry point for farmers and landowners to voluntarily help meet the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy goals. If 75% of Iowa soybean acres were seeded to a cover crops, we would reach 60% of our nutrient reduction goal!

75CC

According to a nine year study by the Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa, the long-term use of winter cereal rye shows no yield impact on soybeans in most years. In fact, for eight sites there was an average 8 bu/ac increase following cereal rye.

If you’re curious on how to make the transition to #notillb4beans and #coveryourbeans, be sure to tune in to the full webinar here as Mark provides tips for making it work for you.

Be sure to join us in this campaign and share your stories and pictures using the #notillb4beans and #coveryourbeans hashtags!

Liz Juchems

December Webinar – Saving time and money with #NoTillb4Beans and #CoverYourBeans

ILFHeaderOn Wednesday, December 12 at noon Dr. Mark Licht, Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Extension Cropping Systems Specialist, will be discussing the #NoTillb4Beans and #CoverYourBeans campaigns launched by the Conservation Learning Group to highlight the potential for time and money savings with no-tillage and cover crops ahead of soybean.

Licht’s extension, research and teaching program is focused on how to holistically manage Iowa cropping systems to achieve productivity, profitability and environmental goals. No-tillage and cover crop adoption are two practices that provide large environmental benefits for reducing phosphorus and nitrogen losses. The #NoTillb4Beans and #CoverYourBeans campaigns focus on how these practices ahead of soybean as an easy entry point with no adverse effects on productivity.

“If Iowa’s nearly 10 million acres of soybean were no-till planted into a cover crop we would nearly reach the 10.5 million no-tillage and 12.5 million cover crop acres called for in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” stated Licht. “Cover crops ahead of soybean can lead to an average 8 bushel/ac yield advantage and no-till planting lowers input costs and saves time.”

Don’t miss this webinar!

DATE: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
TIME: 12:00 p.m.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE: www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars and click the link to join the webinar

More information about this webinar is available at our website. If you can’t watch the webinar live, an archived version will be available on our website:
https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars.

Liz Juchems