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Iowa Conservation Showcase 2013-2014

Profiling Iowa's Conservation Successes in 2013 & 2014

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)

Tim Smith in his cereal rye cover crop field.

MRBI Conservation Practices Improving Soil Conditions, Too

Eagle Grove farmer Tim Smith’s participation in a USDA conservation program designed to reduce nutrient and sediment loading into local waterways  – and eventually the Mississippi River – is also improving the health of his soils using fewer disturbing activities such as deep tillage, over-fertilizing, and keeping living roots in the ground longer through cover crops.

Smith (PDF, 3 MB) | (html)

Joe Kriegel, a Brooklyn farmer, shows off his red clover cover crop field.

Kriegel Ahead of Cover Crops Trend

The number of cover crop acres has increased dramatically over the past five years in Iowa – from less than 10,000 acres in 2009 to about 300,000 acres this fall. One Iowa farmer who is helping to increase that number is Joe Kriegel who farms and grows cover crops on more than 2,000 acres in Poweshiek County with his three sons, Patrick, Nicholas, and Jared.

Kriegel (PDF, 6 MB) | (html)

Bill Totemeier Showcase Photo

Mob Grazing Produces Healthy Soil and Livestock

Many attribute Iowa’s agricultural soil erosion and water quality issues to row crop production. However, open – or continuous – grazing can also lead to gullies and cattle trails that can cause severe erosion and sediment runoff, as well as reduce forage tonnage produced on Iowa pastures.

Totemeier (PDF, 6 MB) | (html)

Don Elsbernd kneels in his strip-till corn.

Conservation, Profits Outweigh Crop Yields

Growing strong crop yields is important to farmer Don Elsbernd, but the National Corn Growers Association member is more interested in protecting his natural resources and improving profit margins through soil conservation practices.

Elsbernd (PDF, 7 MB) | (html)

– Crawford County farmer Craig Brodersen examines his soils after five inches of rain fell in one ho

Cover Crops Hold Soil Through Heavy Rain

Charter Oak farmer Craig Brodersen chose the right year to start using cover crops. He aerial-applied winter hardy cereal rye for the first time last fall into 400 corn acres, and it helped dramatically reduce erosion on much of his newly planted soybean ground this spring.

Brodersen (PDF, 444 KB) | (html)

Mike Jung in fen wetland

Easement Ensures Family Farm Preserved

A unique wetland north of Charles City is helping to filter out upland sediment and other chemicals from ag runoff flowing into the Little Cedar River, and fulfilling a family’s goals by preserving the land and providing a wildlife haven on their farm.

Savage WRP (PDF, 2.9 MB) | (html)

Dennis Lundy Headshot

Premier Iowa Hay Grower Discovers Soil Health with No-Till Alfalfa

Adair County farmer Dennis Lundy began no-tilling alfalfa hay for the first time five years ago to prevent soil erosion on his rolling, highly erosive Shelby soils. Now, he is not only reducing soil erosion but also improving his soil health and achieving better alfalfa stands.

Lundy (PDF, 2 MB) | (html)

More Iowa NRCS Conservation Success Stories