AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms, along with Scott County Soil and Water Conservation District and Iowa Natural Resource Conservation Service, will host a saturated buffer and soil health field day on Tuesday, August 7th from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Paustian Family Farm, rural Walcott. The event is free and open to the whole family and includes a complimentary meal.
Mike Paustian returned to the family’s heritage farm in 2008 which encompasses nearly 1,400 acres and a 1,200 sow farrow-to-finish hog operation. For the past five years, Mike and his father, Kent, have incorporated soybeans in to their rotation and utilize no-till and minimum tillage on their crop acres. They will have their planter and low disturbance manure injector on site to share how these tools help reduce soil erosion and improve soil health.
“We have been looking for ways to reduce the amount of tillage needed for our crop operation, which has primarily been driven by managing manure application and growing continuous corn. Incorporating soybeans into our rotation has allowed for no-till practices to be utilized. Additionally, switching to a drag line manure application system has allowed us to move to minimum tillage on our corn-on-corn acres,” stated Mike.
In addition to reducing tillage, the Paustian’s have begun adding cover crops to hold soil in place, while scavenging nutrients from the soil and fall applied manure. Their goal is to build long term soil health and organic matter in their fields. They have used primarily cereal rye and oats on about 400 acres for over six years. Taking the next step to reduce nitrate loss from their farm, Mike installed a saturated buffer just north of his home.
The workshop agenda will feature the new Iowa Learning Farms Conservation Station On The Edge that includes both a saturated buffer and bioreactor model to demonstrate how these edge of field practices can reduce nitrate losses to Iowa waterways. Jason Steele, NRCS Soil Scientist, and Steve Berger, Washington County Farmer, will lead a discussion on the importance of soil health and practices like no-till and cover crops that can help improve and protect soil health.
The field day will begin at the saturated buffer site located at 22480 70th Avenue, Walcott. From I-80 take exit 284 toward Walcott/Plain View. Go north on N Plainview Road past the I-80 truck stop for 1.6 miles. Head east on 230th Street for one mile. Turn right on 70th Avenue and travel south for 0.5 miles. Look for field day signs directing you to the site. In case of rain, the field day will be held at 6520 215th Street, Walcott. The workshop is free and open to the whole family, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate space and food. For reasonable accommodations and to RSVP please contact Justin Bisinger at (563) 391-1403 Ext 3 or Justin.Bisinger@ia.usda.gov.
For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit www.iowalearningfarms.org.
Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319).
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— Iowa Learning Farms
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