Learn How to Add Cover Crops to Your Farm Lease: Watch the Webinar on May 16

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Watch the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on May 16 at 12:00 p.m. to learn more about how cover crops can be incorporated into a farm lease arrangement. Cover crops are an important tool to help reduce soil erosion and nutrient losses while also improving soil health.

On rented land, adding a conservation practice like cover crops involves the cooperation of both the landowner and tenant. Common questions arise in this situation, including who pays for the practice, how the agreement should be documented and long-term benefits to consider.

Charles Brown, Farm Management Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will share best practices for adding cover crops to a farm lease arrangement. Don’t miss it!

DATE: Wednesday, May 16, 2018
TIME: 12:00 p.m.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Log on as a guest shortly before 12:00 p.m.:
https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/

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 If you can’t watch the webinar live, an archived version will be available on our website: https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/page/webinars.

Julie Winter

Webinar Recap: Dan Jaynes Provides Updates on Saturated Buffers

Dan Jaynes, Research Soil Scientist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment (USDA-ARS), hit the high points on saturated buffers last week in the latest Iowa Learning Farms webinar. Watch the archived version now.

Saturated Buffer Effectiveness and Price Per Pound of N Removed
Saturated buffers can divert about half of the water coming out of a tile outlet (red bars). From this diverted water, the practice can remove between 8-84% of N (blue bars). Saturated buffers costs about $1 per pound of N removed. The practice ranks similarly to other nitrate reduction edge-of-field practices. A comparison table is shown below.

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Recent Updates to the Conservation Practice Standard
See the most recent conservation practice standard for a saturated buffer here. Watch the presentation to hear the discussion on specific changes.

Saturated Buffer Design
Saturated buffers should be designed to treat 5% of the drainage system capacity, or asDesign much as is practical based on the available length of the vegetated buffer. To determine the drainage system capacity, use this excellent tool from the Illinois NRCS. Option 1 (determining capacity using slope and diameter) is the most common option used if limited information is available on the drainage system.

Frequently Asked Questions You Should Know
If you field questions from producers about saturated buffers, make sure you know the answers to these commonly asked questions. Dan covered his list of FAQs:

  • Are we trading a water quality problem for an air quality problem?
  • Does denitrification account for all of the nitrate lost?
  • How wide should the buffer be?
  • What should the buffer vegetation be?
  • What about multiple distribution pipes?
  • What about roots plugging distribution pipes?

Roots Plugging Distribution Pipes
On the issue of whether roots plug distribution pipes, Jaynes says that, generally, the answer is no. For a more in-depth look, here is a great video of a look inside a saturated buffer distribution pipe.

To learn more about site suitability for saturated buffers in your local area, explore the ACPF Saturated Buffer Viewing Tool. The suitability of an area in central Iowa is included below. This can be a great tool to determine potential saturated buffer sites (followed by a trip to ground-truth site conditions).

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If you want to learn the latest information about saturated buffers, tune in to the archived webinar!

Julie Winter

Update on Saturated Buffer Research and Installation Standards

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Watch the Iowa Learning Farms webinar on April 18 at 12:00 p.m. to learn more about the latest research, installation standards and best management practices for saturated buffers. Dan Jaynes, Research Soil Scientist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment (USDA-ARS), will share research results from several saturated buffers and will cover some of the recent changes in the practice standard. Don’t miss it!

DATE: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
TIME: 12:00 p.m.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Log on as a guest shortly before 12:00 p.m.:
https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/

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

Julie Winter

Webinar Recap: Engaging More Landowners in Conservation Decisions

How do we better engage landowners in conservation decisions if they are not the operator? Our March webinar featured Stan Buman and Amy Dreith of Agren, Inc. Agren has piloted a project called “Conservation Connect” since 2011 in the Raccoon River watershed in Calhoun, Carroll, Sac and Buena Vista counties in Iowa. The outreach campaign featured the “Your Land Report Card.”

“Perhaps the most important product of our recent outreach campaign was the implementation of the ‘Your Land Report Card.’ Just like a report card to gauge performance in school, landowners who requested an assessment received a report card with a letter grade for their property.”       -Amy Drieth, Agren, Inc.

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The project used an “AIDA” pyramid approach – awareness, interest, desire and then action. The stages of AIDA are like rungs of a ladder. The project worked to first build awareness about a potential issue before an action step could be considered.

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Agren initially contacted 2,375 landowners using mailings and phone calls; 7% of those landowners contacted had interest in attending a public meeting, talking over the phone or having a windshield assessment completed for their land. After this step, interested parties had in-person contact with a landowner advisor and then installed or improved a practice.

Watch the webinar to learn more about the Conservation Connect project and how you can get a “conservation check-up” for your land or how you can adapt this project for your own watershed. This model could easily be adapted to work in other watersheds.

To learn more about the project, visit www.absenteelandowners.org. To request an Excel sheet that can be used to generate a “Your Land Report Card” contact Amy Drieth, Agren Marketing  Manager, at amy@agreninc.com.

Watch the webinar here!

Julie Winter

Learn More About Non-Operator Landowner Roles in Conservation: ILF Webinar on March 21

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Conservation Connect, managed by Agren, has initiated direct marketing campaigns to non-operator landowners to build awareness and encourage implementation of conservation practices. Tom Buman, Chief Executive Officer of Agren, and Amy Dreith, Marketing Manager, will co-present about outreach strategies that Agren has used to engage non-operator landowners in natural resources conservation. Part of their outreach to landowners includes the “Your Land Report Card” assessment.

“Report cards are a great tool to use with non-operator landowners who want a check-up, but don’t have the understanding or ability to understand all the detailed metrics,” said Amy Dreith, Marketing Manager for Agren. “It is imperative to demonstrate that there is a problem before there’s interest in a solution.”

DATE: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
TIME: 12:00 p.m.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Log on as a guest shortly before 12:00 p.m.:
https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/

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.

Julie Winter

Who Knew? Cover Crops, Corn and Water Molds Webinar Recap

Cover crops have numerous benefits, but not everyone is using them. Decreased yield is a major barrier but terminating at the right time can minimize risk. What are the factors that may impact yield and why does timing matter?

Dr. Alison Robertson, professor of plant pathology and microbiology and extension field crops pathologist at Iowa State University, wondered if corn seedling disease could be the culprit.

“As a pathologist, when I look at reduced stands, more barren plants, and slower emergence, I automatically think of seedling disease.”

In this month’s podcast, Robertson details the research her team is doing to determine what management practices could reduce yield drag.

They first had to determine if winter rye can even host pathogens that infect corn seedlings. They discovered that rye can host Fusarium graminearum and Pythium sylvaticum.

Next, they set up a field trial experiment seeding winter rye ahead of planting corn. They terminated five plots at different times, anywhere from 25 days before planting to two days after planting.

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Cover crop test fields in Boone, Iowa.

They found that when conditions are favorable, winter rye acts as a ‘green bridge’ for Pythium to infect the corn. Fusarium was present whether cover crops were used or not and Rhizoctonia did not appear at all.

Watch Dr. Robertson’s webinar here to learn the optimal time for termination and what additional factors may change it.

Brianne Osborn

Webinar TODAY: Reduce Your Risk of Yield Impact When Using Cover Crops

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Despite the many documented benefits of cover crops, some farmers are hesitant to add cover crops to their operations due to perceived risks of yield impact and increased Robertsondisease. Dr. Alison Robertson, Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and Extension Field Crops Pathologist at Iowa State University, will discuss best management practices that can help farmers avoid reduced stands and lower yields. She will also explain how a cover crop may act as a green bridge for oomycete pathogens, thereby creating an increased risk of seedling disease in corn without proper management.

DATE: Wednesday, February 21, 2018
TIME: 1:00 p.m.
HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Log on as a guest shortly before 1:00 p.m.:
https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/ilf/

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

Julie Winter