Posted on 02/20/2018 at 05:00 AM by Iowa Corn
Corn, soybean farmer
Continuing on with our “Farmer to Farmer: Let’s talk conservation” series, we talk with Chris Gaesser, a corn and soybean farmer from Corning, Iowa. Chris is a strong advocate for stewardship and conservation and is a great example of doing his part to leave the land in better shape than when he started farming. Let’s learn more about Chris!
Q: You implement a lot of conservation practices on your farm. How did you choose the ones for your operation and how did you get started?
A: We live in the rolling hills of Iowa, so we do a lot of tiling and terracing. We’ve also put in grass waterways, as well as buffer strips for turnaround areas and along creeks. The main reason we started cover crops was for soil erosion control. We had a lot of years where we were getting four-inch rains in an hour early in the year, and most of our terracing and water control systems are only meant to withstand about two inches in an hour. We had to do something different for early in the season while our crop was establishing.
Q: What types of improvements have you seen since implementing conservation practices?
A: We started conservation practices for erosion control, and we've definitely seen that. However, we’ve seen other benefits as well, such as a lot of early-season weed suppression with cover crops. We've also seen slight increases in organic matter over time and less compaction in our soil. Economically, we're maintaining our resources. Since our soil is not washing away, nutrients are staying where they can be most beneficial to the soil. We're hoping to see over time that we can apply less nutrients because of better soil organic matter.
Q: You have had conservation practices on your farm before you joined the Soil Health Partnership (SHP). What was your reasoning for becoming part of SHP, even though you were already planting cover crops?
A: The nice part about working with a group, even if you're doing your own on-farm research, is that you're generally going to get extra information. There are a lot of people working to bring more data together to find different solutions for things, or maybe correlating different things in the field that you hadn't thought about.
Learn more about Chris and other Iowa farmers who are doing a great job with conservation on their farms across the state!