Farms: Corn, soybeans
Conservation practices used: Cover crops, terraces, grass waterways, buffer strips
Why cover crops? The main reason we started cover crops was for soil erosion control. We had a lot of years where we were getting 4-inch rains in an hour early in the year, and most of our terracing and water control systems are only meant to withstand about 2 inches in an hour, so we had to do something different for early in the season.
“One of the great things about being involved with Iowa Corn and the Soil Health Partnership is the networking. They are great resources to be able to connect with other farmers who are doing similar things and see what's working for them and what's not.”
Value of conservation: We've definitely been able to control erosion better since implementing conservation practices. We also see a lot of early-season weed suppression with our cover crop as well as a slight increase in organic matter over time. Economically, we are maintaining our soil as a resource. Our soil isn't washing away and all of our nutrients are staying where we need them to be.
Advice for other farmers: Start small when trying something new. Every year you will learn something new. You'll find out what doesn't work, what does and inevitably you're going to make a few mistakes along the way. So just start small and change things gradually.