Iowa Learning Farms Webinar: Talking Grazing with Joe Sellers

web3Did you miss our webinar with Joe Sellers, Iowa State University Extension Beef Field Specialist, this week? You’re in luck because we archive all of our webinars on our website!

Tune into the webinar to learn more about:

  • Results from long-term grazing studies on the ISU McNay Research Farm in Chariton
  • How pasture helps store more carbon and organic matter than it loses
  • How to manage grass throughout the growing season and your forage supply year-round
  • How to improve grazing through fertility maintenance and grazing efficiency
  • Why water placement is critical and can help with pasture utilization and manure distribution
  • Resources you can use to learn more, including an updated “Pasture Management Guide,” workshops, the Iowa Forage and Grasslands Conference and more in-depth classes such as the Greenhorn Grazing Class and the Iowa Certified Graziers Class

A few great quotes from Joe:


“As graziers, we are really managers of plant leaf area and root carbohydrate reserves.”

“Management-intensive grazing is not intensive grazing!”




Tune into the webinar to learn more!

Julie Whitson

October 18 Webinar to Discuss Management-Intensive Grazing and Grasslands

Pasture and forage acres are critical to soil conservation and the profitability of beef cattle operations. Grab your lunch and learn from Joe Sellers, Beef Field Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Sellers will discuss practices that improve grazing effectiveness and how management-intensive grazing can work on Iowa farms. He will also discuss where opportunities exist to expand grasslands in Iowa.

DATE: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
TIME: 12:00 noon
HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Log on as a guest shortly before 12:00 p.m.:

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 If you can’t watch the webinar live, an archived version will be available on our website:

Julie Whitson


ILF Webinar Digs into Earthworms and Soil Health

The common nightcrawler, Lumbricus terrestris, is a deep-burrowing worm species that is found in many Iowa crop fields. The presence of nightcrawlers can serve as one indicator of the overall soil health in Iowa’s agricultural ecosystems. Ann Staudt, Assistant Manager of the Iowa Learning Farms, will discuss ILF’s recent research that analyzes the relationship between earthworm populations, cover crops and overall soil health.

midden1While soil health can be difficult to quantify, earthworms are a very tangible early indicator of soil health, long recognized by farmers and gardeners as being beneficial organisms in the soil ecosystem. Staudt hopes that this research will teach us more about the connections between earthworm populations and soil health in a cover crop versus no cover system, and that earthworms can be a simple, straightforward indicator of soil health.

Staudt is an environmental engineer who actively blends scientific knowledge and creative expression through her work and teaching. Staudt holds her MS degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University.

Log on as a guest shortly before 1:00 p.m.:

If you can’t participate live, watch the archive of today’s webinar (along with all of ILF’s past webinars) on our website:

Julie Whitson

Cover Crop Webinar to Focus on Soil Health and Nitrate Retention

As fall cover crops go into the ground, many farmers have questions about how to best manage cover crops and achieve benefits such as soil health and nitrate retention. Dr. Mike Castellano will share his research on how cover crops can best be managed to maximize benefits during the Iowa Learning Farms’ monthly webinar on Wednesday, September 21 at 1 p.m.

corn_in_rye_small“Future gains in crop production and environmental quality will require a systems approach that integrates many disciplines,” Castellano said. To achieve this vision, Castellano uses expertise in soil science and ecosystem ecology to work with a broad range of scientists, managers and policy makers.

Castellano is the William T. Frankenberger Professor of Soil Science and Associate Professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University. He has a PhD in Soil Science from The Pennsylvania State University.


Log on as a guest shortly before 1:00 p.m.:

If you can’t participate live, watch the archive of today’s webinar (along with all of ILF’s past webinars) on our website:

Julie Whitson

This just in – Iowa Learning Farms launches a new website!

Accessing conservation information and upcoming field day details just became a lot easier with the launch of our new Iowa Learning Farms website –


The new site is mobile device friendly to access information on the go or in the field. Don’t worry if you have your favorite links saved, they will continue to work and redirect to the new site (if they don’t please let us know so we can get that fixed asap!).

There are great resources available on our website including how-to videos, a field day planning guide, and free publications on cover crops, no-till, strip-till, wetlands and many more! You can also find an Iowa Learning Farms farmer partner near you to ask questions or share ideas.

Stay up to date with upcoming events, webinars and recent news on our website and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Liz Juchems


PEWI: Sandbox for Creativity, Tool for Real Change

Have you ever wondered how changes in land use could affect nutrient reduction, habitat for pollinators or soil health? In this month’s webinar, Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore showed us how to use a new tool, People in Ecosystems Watershed Integration (PEWI).

Today, we face water quality issues related to soil erosion, nutrient loss, and water runoff in Iowa and beyond. Many of these problems stem from how our landscape has changed over the last two centuries. One way that we can begin to address these problems is to strategically target land use changes at the watershed scale.

runoff combined 2

Left: real-world challenges like erosion and water runoff; Right: PEWI shows how land use changes pay off

Schulte Moore and her team created PEWI because they wanted a tool that could show people how changes in land use could affect the surrounding area without having to make risky or costly decisions. PEWI gives users a chance to test-drive changes in land use in a 6,000 acre watershed. Each cell in the simulation represents ten acres. Users can choose from 15 different land uses and can simulate crop rotations over a three year period.

Topography, soil drainage, and flood frequency can all be altered to the user’s preference. The tool also considers the impacts of weather and provides a random distribution of weather patterns based on 30 year averages of precipitation in Iowa.

combined features

PEWI does not require any specific software licenses or computer skills. To use PEWI, all users need is the internet. Users can compare different landscape designs and learn about how different mixes of landscapes or even weather patterns might affect conditions in the real world. PEWI can provide estimates for nutrient runoff and erosion. The tool can also score landscapes and compare how different designs meet different goals.


You can view an archived version of the webinar here. Other archived webinars from Iowa Learning Farms are available on our website.

For more information about PEWI, visit the PEWI website.  You can try PEWI for yourself here. Lesson plan ideas, user guides, and tutorials are all available at the PEWI website.

Julie Whitson

ICYMI: June Webinar Features New Ideas for Community Engagement in Watersheds

In the Iowa Learning Farms June webinar, Dr. Angie Carter (Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Welfare at Augustana College) discussed several great approaches that she has used to increase community involvement at the watershed level.  Carter used participatory research methods to engage different groups of people in conversations about water quality, conservation, and their connection to the land in the watershed.

One project Carter described was the “River Stories: Views From an Iowa Watershed.”  The project asked landowners in the Raccoon River watershed to document their experience in the watershed through photos.   Then, they added short narratives, or “photostories,” to describe the pictures.  The results were quite unique.

One participant, Jan Kaiser, created a photostory in which she underwent a prairie burn for the first time as a way to manage her prairie land.

Burning the Prairie! by Jan Kaiser

CarterWebinar_crop“It took me a while to be convinced of burning the eighteen acres we planted to prairie six years ago.  Last year, the big blue stem was over seven feet tall and the pollinator habitat was buzzing with bees and butterflies!  Did I really want to jeopardize all that, plus the twenty acres of timber adjoining the prairie?  Since it was part of the Conservation Reserve Program, it required Mid-Contract Management, meaning I needed to either disc it under or burn it.  On a still and humid evening, the fire folks lit the blaze under a full moon.  A beautiful sight – and it all went off without a hitch!”

Watch the archived webinar to hear about how Angie Carter used this and other participatory methods to create community in watersheds.  Carter’s work can be used for any group in a watershed that has not previously been brought into the conversation about water quality and conservation.

Angie Carter was also featured on the Iowa Learning Farms podcast, Conservation Chat, in November of 2015.  The episode discusses women landowners and the role they play in conservation practice adoption here in Iowa.

Julie Whitson