Chad Ingels is currently leading the Extension and Outreach component of the Sustainable Corn project. He is an Extension watershed specialist located in northeast Iowa providing education, facilitation and administration for farmer-led watershed councils that develop and implement performance-based incentive programs in their impaired watersheds. He has been working with water quality and watershed improvement projects in Iowa since 2000. Chad also farms part-time, raising corn, soybean and Berkshire pigs.
Dick started planting a rye cover crop in 2011 to improve his Soil Conditioning Index following soybeans and in two years made a commitment to planting multi-species nitrogen scavenging cover crops on all of his 720 rotated crop acres. To diversify his cropping system and ensure availability of winter small grains, Dick planted 13 acres of rye for harvest in 2013 and expanded to 20 acres in 2014. This Fall he planted 10 acres of winter wheat in addition to the 20 acres of rye for harvest in 2015. This will provide Dick with the majority of his cover crop seed, provide an alternative to his corn/corn/soybean rotation, reduce costs by growing legumes after small grain harvest, increasing sustainability and resilience.
Matt Liebman, and his research group at Iowa State University, has been conducting long-term research comparing two-, three- and four-year crop rotations. His recent work shows that extended crop rotations can lead to a reduced reliance on herbicides, pesticides and artificial fertilizer, and less use of fossil fuels. A Leopold Center On the Ground Video by Matt provides some insight into the topic he will be discussing on Tuesday evening.
This Farminar will be a great opportunity to gain some insight from a farmer and researcher about the opportunities and obstacles to adding a third crop to the typical corn and soybean rotation. Dick and Matt are both enthusiastic about extending and improving cropping systems to improve economic and environmental performance.
Fall is the time to evaluate corn nitrogen use efficiency by using the end-of-season cornstalk nitrate test. The test measures nitrate-nitrogen left in the corn plant following maturity.
According to the most recent USDA Crop Progress report released on October 27 just 46% of the nation’s corn was harvested so there is still time to collect samples for analysis. Ideally samples should be collected 1 to 3 weeks after maturity (black layer), however, over the course of 15 years of utilizing the test I have collected samples up to, and immediately after harvest. Post harvest samples can be collected if the corn header is raised high enough to allow an 8-inch stalk segment to be collected starting 6 inches above the ground. If using a head with shredders samples will need to be collected before harvest. Don’t allow stalks that have been harvested to get rained on before collection or nitrates will start washing out of the stalks.
The video provides a demonstration of sample collection and preparation in order to send to a lab for analysis.
Dick Sloan provided a glimpse into his evolution as a conservationist farmer along with an update of his no-till and cover crop farming practices at a June 19 Lime Creek field day.
“(I am) trying for a more resilient farming,” he told the 66 attending the Practical Farmers of Iowa sponsored event. Unfortunately, heavy rain (nearly 2 inches) and cracks of thunder kept the crowd inside the machine shed, preventing most from getting a close-up view of the practices. Continue reading →
The following post is by guest blogger Amanda Hoover. Amanda is an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Continental Local Schools in Continental, Ohio. She is a graduate of South Dakota State University, one of the 10 partner institutions involved in the Sustainable Corn Project. You can follow Amanda on Twitter: twitter.com/MsAHoover. To learn more about how our Education team is training the next generation of scientists, developing science education curricula and promoting learning opportunities for high school teachers and students through this USDA-NIFA funded project click here.
For many kids, summertime means camp time. During June 2014, this was true for some of their teachers, too! Twenty science and agriculture teachers, including myself, met on the campus of Iowa State University campus for Climate Camp.
Sponsored by the Sustainable Corn Project, the camp was a great opportunity for teachers, climate experts, and sustainable agriculture experts to network and learn from one another. One of my favorite things about being an agriculture teacher is the ‘family’ atmosphere within the profession. I love attending events to not only meet other Ag teachers, but also to learn from them. Having the chance to interact with science teachers, and helping them understand the vast connections between science and agriculture, and how they can incorporate ag into their curricula, was an added bonus! Continue reading →
On June 3 a strong storm system moved across Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois with large hail and heavy rain. The storm was significant enough to make the national news with the National Weather Service reporting large hail, winds up to 85 mph and rainfall in excess of 4 inches.
Storm Prediction Center – http://www.spc.noaa.gov/
The Iowa Daily Erosion Project showed localized soil erosion nearing 7 tons per acre from this one storm event in southwest Iowa.
Water is an extremely valuable input in agriculture, whether delivered through rain, snow or irrigation. This fact was made very apparent during the kickoff presentation at the recent Iowa Water Conference. In his presentation Water Issues in the Developing World, Dick Schultz (Iowa State University) detailed the different sources of water in our world. While it seems that there is “water, water, everywhere”, only 3% of the world’s water is fresh water, the balance resides in the oceans.
Of that fresh water, 69% is in glaciers, 30% is groundwater, 0.3% lakes, 0.06% soil moisture, 0.04% in the atmosphere, 0.06% in rivers and 0.003% in the biosphere. He went on to point out that 50% of the fresh water is in 6 areas: Canada, Russia, Tibet, Columbia, Brazil and Indonesia.
Water has been a hot topic in the US news with stories of the California drought, an extremely snowy winter in the east and nutrient reduction strategies in the Midwest. A quick look at the Drought Monitor shows that drought conditions extend from California to Illinois. Continue reading →
Farmers are data hungry. I know because I moonlight as one. I get eight texts a day just to know what the grain markets are doing. What is my cost per acre? How fast did that group of pigs grow? These are the types of questions I and other farmers are asking themselves all the time. This fall I finally installed a GPS-enabled yield monitor in my combine. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Sure, much of what I was seeing I knew already. Some areas are good, some bad, and some are much better or worse than I ever expected. That real-time data gave me something to think about and will lead to management changes in the future.