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Iowa Conservation Showcase 2014-2015

Profiling Iowa's Conservation Successes in 2014 & 2015

Jason Moore and John Paulin stand near a wetland in Hancock County.

Families, Conservation Partners Collaborate on Unique Wetland Complex

Three families with adjoining property lines recently combined efforts with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other conservation partners to restore pothole wetlands and upland prairie on former cropland and rough pasture, creating a 284-acre wildlife haven in northern Iowa.

Wetland Complex (PDF) | (html)

Jason McCunn of rural Red Oak.

McCunn Continues Family's No-till Tradition

Thirty-five years after starring in a video documenting his transition to no-till farming, the late Deane McCunn would be very proud of his grandson. Jason McCunn of rural Red Oak is continuing what his grandpa started by keeping his farm equipment above ground and leaving the soil undisturbed on the family’s Montgomery County farm.

McCunn (PDF, 3 MB) | (html) | Video (YouTube)

Dave Einck

County Leaders Stand Up for Stewardship

One Iowa county has decided that protecting the natural resources on their county-owned farm and showcasing it as an example of good land stewardship outweighs the financial benefits of taking top dollar per acre from a potential renter.

Allamakee (PDF, 1.7 MB) | (html)

The Lamborns (Larry, left, Mark, right, and Brock) stand on their farm near Luana in Allamakee Co.

Father-Son Duo Investing in Conservation

Father-son farming duo Larry and Mark Lamborn are reinvesting payments earned through USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to add additional conservation practices on their land, including 3,300 feet of terraces and improving yields.

Lamborn (PDF, 1 MB) | (html)

Linda Ritchie is a landowner in Sac County, Iowa.

Cleaning Up A Watershed Through Conservation

Linda Ritchie and her siblings have always been conscious of the quality of their drinking water. Growing up on their Sac County Farm – Bethune Family Farms ­– they drank straight from the well. Today, Ritchie is applying conservation practices on the family’s 740 acres to keep local water bodies, including nearby Black Hawk Lake, free from pollutants such as sediment, phosphorus and nitrates.

Ritchie (PDF, 3 MB) | (html)

Marilyn Geidel

Cover Crops Just Seemed Like the Thing to Do

The more she read about cover crops and soil health, the more Marilyn Geidel became convinced she and her husband Wes should be trying them on their farm. “I have great interest in reading the farm magazines,” Marilyn explains. “The more I read, cover crops just seemed like the thing to do. It sounded good to us to build the soil and to prevent erosion on our hills.”

Geidel (PDF, 6 MB) | (html)

Ruth Rabinowitz of Santa Cruz, CA owns six Iowa farms.

'No One Will Treat the Land Like You Do'

Nearly 2,000 miles separates Ruth Rabinowitz from her family’s Iowa farmland. Without the advantage of growing up on a farm, the new partner in Rabinowitz Family Farms now finds herself serving as the family’s point person for managing 10 farms in six Iowa counties as well as one farm in South Dakota.

Rabinowitz (PDF, 5 MB) | (html)

This is the second year of cover crops for absentee landowner Lynn Betts.

Lynn Betts: If You Believe Soil Is Alive, Treat It That Way

Most landowners who don’t actively farm their land, especially those who live away from it, don’t expect to or want to make day-to-day decisions on how the land is farmed. They leave that up to their tenant. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right and the responsibility to set the tone for long-term care of their land. In fact, that’s one of the most important things they can do, says Guthrie County, Iowa, absentee landowner Lynn Betts.

Betts (PDF, 10 MB) | (html)

Ann Frederick

Family Synchronized on Cover Crops

Ann Frederick’s family thinks alike on cover crops and conservation. “Cover crops work well on our farm because of our cows,” Ann says. “We all agree cover crops are good for our cows and good for our ground.”

Frederick (PDF, 5 MB) | (html)

Sorenson and her German shepherd, Noble, look at a spadeful of topsoil.

Sorenson Wrote Conservation Into Her Lease

Linda “Lin” Sorenson says the income from land she inherited from her father is an enormous blessing, and she’s made a point of educating herself on how to care for it as long as she lives. Building the soil with cover crops has become a central part of that care.

Sorenson (PDF, 6 MB) | (html)

Roger Lansink of Odebolt.

Organic Grower Overcomes Challenges, Harvests Soil Health Benefits

Organic farmer Roger Lansink says the success or failure of his operation rests squarely on his shoulders. “We can’t blame any crop failures on synthetic inputs—because we don’t use any,” he says.

“But,” he adds, “we can also take all the credit for raising a successful, healthy crop.”

Lansink (PDF, 5 MB) | (html)

Melissa and Andy Dunham own and operate Grinnell Heritage Farm in Grinnell, Iowa.

Iowa Couple Grows Food, Family, Community on Organic Farm

Some people are born to farm. Others grow to love it. In Melissa Dunham’s case, she fell in love with a farmer—and now she loves both the farmer and the farm.

Dunham (PDF, 5 MB) | (html)

Jeanne Elbert of Pocahontas, Iowa.

Healthy Soil is Central to Jeanne Elbert's Legacy

Pocahontas farmer Jeanne Elbert and her husband, Troy, call farming their livelihood, which is the number one reason the couple is using cover crops to improve soil health.

Elbert (PDF, 3 MB) | (html)

Ron and Maria Vakulskas Rosmann run a certified organic farm in Harlan.

Powered by Diversity and Healthy Soil, Organic Farm Flourishes

A certified organic operation since 1994, Ron and Maria Vakulskas Rosmann's 700-acre farm near Harlan is home to a remarkable amount of diversity—above and below the ground.

Rosmann (PDF, 2 MB) | (html)

Iowa farmer and Veteran beginner farm Adam Boge shows off his ridge till field.

USDA Helps Iraq War Veteran Enhance Conservation On Farm

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping Iraq War Veteran Adam Boge improve technology and other efficiencies in his new farming operation, allowing the Ventura farmer to prepare for long-term success in the first full year on his own.

Boge (PDF, 2 MB) | (html)

David Petersen

Conservation on Dairy Farm Truly Majestic

Southeast Iowa dairy farmer David Petersen’s manure management projects keep potential contaminates out of two water drainage areas on his farm, ensuring cleaner water downstream to the Cedar, Iowa and Mississippi Rivers.

Petersen (PDF, 2.4 MB) | (html)

RJ Carson of Marion, Iowa.

Yields, Environment Benefit from Spring Split N Applications

A 39-year farming veteran is splitting from his past farming practices to use less fertilizer and improve crop health and yield performance. By replacing anhydrous ammonia with split spring applications of liquid nitrogen, he is also supporting Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy by reducing the risk of leaching and runoff.

Carson (PDF, 3 MB) | (html)

Mark Korte of Palmer, Iowa.

Ready for Radishes? The Next Big Thing

Internet research on cover crops led Pocahontas County farmer Mark Korte to plant 500 acres of tillage radishes in the summer of 2013, after deciding to prevent plant cover crops following a wet spring that ruined his cash crop.

Korte (PDF, 6 MB) | (html)

Don McCool

Cover Crops Provide Immediate Soil Benefits for No-tiller

After five years researching cover crops, Guthrie County farmer Don McCool aerial seeded cereal rye on 420 acres on his cropland near Bayard on Sept. 9, 2013, and he saw immediate soil health benefits, including more root mass to feed microorganisms

McCool (PDF, 4 MB) | (html)

Plymouth County farmer Randy Rogers stands in a strip-till cornfield.

Rogers Successfully No-tills River Bottoms

By erasing three words from his vocabulary – can’t, won’t and don’t – Woodbury County farmer Randy Rogers has effectively done what most local farmers have been unable or unwilling to do – successfully strip-till corn and no-till soybeans on the Missouri River Bottoms.

Rogers (PDF, 7 MB) | (html)

More Iowa NRCS Conservation Success Stories