Farms: Corn, soybeans
Conservation practices used: No-till, strip-till, cover crops, grassed waterways, filter strips and CRP
Selecting cover crops: Cover crops are planted on 100% of the ground I own. Cereal rye is predominantly used because it performs well in northern Iowa and provides the greatest opportunity for growth in the fall. I see more earthworms where cover crops are planted, which helps move water deeper into the soil. Cover crops also recycle nutrients and suppress weeds, which is especially helpful later in the season when waterhemp germinates.
Importance of testing: Soil nitrate tests in the spring determine the rate for side dressing. In the fall, cornstalks are tested to find out how much nitrogen was left. Grid soil sampling determines nutrient needs during the season. If you don’t have it measured, you don’t know how to manage.
“Conservation practices aid in a sustainable future in farming because they improve soil health while maintaining a high level of crop productivity.”
Following the 4Rs: I follow the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship – right source, right rate, right time and right place – because it focuses on the crops’ needs and helps to maximize my nutrient investment.
Monitoring water quality: One of the keys to monitoring water quality, which is important because my family drinks the water, is knowing what’s in the water. Advancements in technology have improved how we can measure nitrate levels to protect the water supply.
Advice for farmers: If there’s a practice you are interested in trying, seek information from farmers and experts to figure out how it can be implemented on your farm. Determine the costs and find out if cost share funds are available to help get you started.