Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and Delaware County NRCS, will host a cover crop field day Thursday, November 17 from 12:00-2:00 p.m. at the Vaske Farm near Masonville. The free event is open to farmers and landowners and includes a complimentary meal.
Cover crops offer many benefits to farmers and landowners including reduced soil erosion, weed suppression potential, reduced nitrogen and phosphorus loads entering water bodies, and increased organic matter in the soil. When paired with strip-till additional benefits include increased water infiltration and reduced erosion during heavy rain events. This field day aims to equip attendees with best management practices for establishing and managing cover crops to maintain yields during the transition to a higher residue system of strip-tillage and cover crops.
Iowa Learning Farms farmer partner Tom Vaske began farming corn and soybeans after college with his father in Delaware County and in 2001 began farming on his own with his wife Jen and three sons. Tom has been an innovator on his farm, conducting test plots on his own and with guidance from the Iowa Soybean Association. When a landlord stipulated that there needed to be some conservation practices on his land, he started researching the best approach. Strip-tilling seemed to be the way to go, so instead of purchasing expensive equipment, he modified an old planter into a strip-tiller, which was featured in Farm Journal.
“Conservation tillage can work if you want it to work. Yields are just as good, if not better, than conventional tillage, with less labor,” says Tom. “I love adopting conservation practices. It is fun, interesting and engaging. They cost less money and requires less labor. Now technology is catching up so there aren’t any good reasons not to do it.”
Brian Dougherty, Iowa State University Extension Field Agricultural Engineer, will discuss tips for successful spring cover crop management and planter adjustments for a higher residue system. Iowa NRCS staff Alisha Sedlmayr, NE Area Soil Health Specialist, and Angie Lemke, Manchester Soil Conservationist, will lead attendees through soil health demonstration and discussion opportunities for technical and financial assistance.
The field day be held at the Vaske Farm, 2567 110th Ave, Masonville, IA 50654 and will be held rain or shine.