Friday, June 28, 2013

Conservation in Action Tour

First, here is an update on what has been happening on the farm: 

  1. Planting:  We finished up planting soybeans on Saturday, June 22nd. Thank goodness! It's in God's hands now!
  2. We loaded pigs out of our barn yesterday.  340 (not so little) piggies went to the market! :) 
  3. We’ve been keeping up on the spraying in between rains.
  4. We are finishing up side-dressing anhydrous to our corn.

Yesterday, I got to attend a "Conservation in Action" tour in Kossuth County. The tour was just that: tours of real farmers that implement real conservation practices on their farms. We saw:

  • Wetlands
    • The wetlands we looked at were in different conservation programs, but the basic concept is that they help create a reservoir to hold water and filter out excess nutrients (so they don’t flow downstream). 

2013-06-27 Conservation in Action Wetland BLOG

  • Hog Facilities
    • The farmers use all of the manure generated from the pigs as their main nutrient source for crop growth on their farms. Along with those nutrients, they also have a plan that shows an estimate of how much soil is eroded off of each field (called the RUSLE2) and the risk of phosphorus loss on each field (called the P-Index). They are required to meet certain levels to apply manure.
  • High Tunnel Greenhouse
    • This greenhouse was funded through EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) through NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service). Vegetables are grown in it and sold locally. I wish I could grow and maintain a garden like her!

2013-06-27 Conservation in Action High Tunnel BLOG

  • Windbreaks
    • The windbreaks we saw were mostly used around their livestock facilities. Windbreaks help protect the livestock from wind/snow, create a filter for odor/dust (so it doesn't blow off-site), and (in my opinion) make the farms look pretty!
  • Strip Tillage
    • Strip Tillage is a reduced tillage program. It is a combination of conventional tillage (leaving little residue on the top of the soil) and no-till (leaving all the residue on the soil). It literally leaves a strip of soil to plant in, while the inner rows have trash/residue to prevent soil loss.

2013-06-27 Conservation in Action High Strip Till Bar BLOG

There were more conservation practices talked about, but these were some of the highlights. On our own farm we have a wetland; we use the same principles and practices as the hog facilities mentioned above; we have implemented windbreaks; and we utilize strip tillage.

Conservation is not a "one size fits all" package. Iowa is diverse in landscape which also means that while some practices work here, they may not work for someone else. We work with others and learn from one another (the good and the bad) because we have love and passion for our land.

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