Researchers with the Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project (commonly known as the Sustainable Corn Project) have documented 130 findings, some of which will be explored during a Feb. 11 webinar, open to the public through Iowa State University
The five-year USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture research project is nearing completion, led by Lois Wright Morton, a professor of sociology at Iowa State University. In 2011, Morton convened 140 researchers from 10 land-grant universities in the Corn Belt and USDA Agricultural Research Service, to begin a study of farmers’ perceptions and farm management practices.
The practices had the potential to provide resilience in times of drought, reduce soil and nutrient losses under saturated soil conditions, decrease field nitrogen losses, retain carbon in the soil and ensure crop and soil productivity. The researchers collected measurements at 35 field sites with diverse landscapes and soils, and from surveys of thousands of Midwestern farmers, entering all the data into one database for the team’s use. Continue reading →
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.
Dick Sloan, an Iowa farmer in Buchanan County, recently wrote to his local newspaper to bring attention to the portion of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy that provides tables that assist farmers in making nutrient management decisions. Table 2, for example, on page 6 of the strategy shows the potential impact of certain practices, like cover crops, on reducing nitrate loss and on corn yield based on literature review. Farmers can see which practices have been shown to be most effective. His article can be found at http://thegazette.com/2014/02/02/good-options-to-choose-from/. The document to which he refers – Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy – can be found online at http://www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu/sites/default/files/documents/NRS2-130529.pdf.
Want to learn a lot about crops, climate, culture, and change, all in a short period of time? Check out the Speed Science Resources available on our website. They include both factsheets and short videos and are approved for use in educational, research, and extension settings. Factsheet topics vary from the nitrogen cycle, to cover crops, to drainage water management. The videos cover climate change, soil core sampling, modeling and analysis of soil, and many other topics. Here’s an example of a video. Check it out and tell us what you think!