CORYDON, Iowa — The Stewards of the Land program, a one-of-a-kind initiative aimed at improving soil health and water quality in Iowa through well-managed grazing, officially kicks off February 20.
The program is a partnership between the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, the Iowa Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation, and Prairie Creek Seed.
“Iowa cattlemen are truly stewards of the land and want to leave the land better for the future generations. In order to accomplish this, farmers and ranchers need to be both economically and environmentally sustainable. The Stewards of the Land project will demonstrate the value of both and that the two goals are completely compatible,” says Karl Dallefeld, President of Prairie Creek Seed. The company has pledged to support the program financially, and will also donate 5 cents back to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association for every pound of forage and cover crop seed sold.
An educational meeting will be held Monday, February 20 at the Wayne County Extension Office in Corydon. Linda Shumate, ICA Grazing Advisor, will explain the Stewards of the Land program in more depth. Dallefeld will share information on perennial and annual forage selection and Joe Sellers, ISU Extension, will present “Managing Fescue Pasture.”
The event is free and includes a complimentary dinner. Producers should RSVP to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association office: 515-296-2266 or email@example.com.
According to the ISU Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, when grasslands are managed with a focus on the regenerative crop, cattle not only reduce overall GHG emissions, but also facilitate increased soil carbon sequestration, reduce environmental damage, and create habitat for various wildlife and pollinator species.
Since 2007, the state of Iowa has lost roughly 1,600 cow/calf farms and over 110,000 cow/calf pairs.
In an effort to restore Iowa’s grasslands, the Stewards of the Land project will help farmers and ranchers make positive changes on their farm, such as enhancing current grassland management practices and transitioning current crop ground and expiring CRP contract acres into working grasslands. According to the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, perennial cover and grazed pastures are estimated to reduce Nitrate loss by 85% and Phosphorus loss by 60%.
Allocating additional acres to grasslands requires financial investment and technical expertise. Through the Stewards of the Land project, ICA will hire a Grazing Advisor that will work to educate Iowa cattlemen and encourage environmentally conscious decisions when it comes to land management. Through technical assistance, the ICA Grazing Advisor will work with area cattlemen to increase the productivity of current grasslands, while encouraging transformation of additional acres.
— Iowa Cattlemen’s Association
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