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Serving: United States
farmland suitable for conservation practices
RIGHT CHOICE: The Whole Farm Conservation Best Practices Manual can help farmers select conservation measures appropriate for their farms.

Conservation best practices manual available for download

Hands-on guide for farmers outlines conservation practices and provides visual decision tools.

The Conservation Learning Group, a think tank that’s part of Iowa State University Extension, has published the Whole Farm Conservation Best Practices Manual to aid farmers in selecting conservation measures appropriate for their farms.

Designed primarily for farmers just starting out or who’ve had a few years of experience adopting conservation practices, the manual provides a broad range of information that could be beneficial to any producer. The manual is available from ISU Extension

The manual covers in-field topics including tillage management, cover crops and diverse rotations, and edge-of-field practices such as wetlands, bioreactors, saturated buffers, controlled drainage and prairie strips. It provides information on implementation and expected outcomes. In addition, it includes comprehensive graphical decision tools to aid farmers in determining the best approaches for each area on their farm. 

“A primary goal in producing this manual is to help farmers succeed with conservation practices based on the vast array of ongoing research and field studies conducted at Iowa State and beyond,” says Mark Licht, an ISU Extension cropping systems specialist. “We’ve heard from farmers across the state that sometimes it’s difficult to navigate discrepancies between different research reports and recommendations regarding conservation and water quality practices. With this manual, we’ve pulled together the most important parts from the rich sets of research on cover crops and other conservation efforts in Iowa and presented them using consistent language in an easy-to-use graphical format.” 

Steps to conservation success 

The manual was developed based on numerous meetings and working groups among stakeholders, researchers, agency representatives and communications specialists, who worked together to provide a comprehensive resource for farmers. The content was also presented to farmers at multiple events, prior to public release, to gather feedback on usability and the graphical decision tools included. 

“This manual will be an excellent tool for our conservation planners to use as they work with farmers to adopt these management practices,” says Kevin Kuhn, resource conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service. “I was involved in the working groups which discussed the best strategies for farmers who are new to these practices. It’s our hope with this advice that they will be successful early in the adoption of these practices both agronomically and from a conservation standpoint.” 

Communicating with producers 

The Conservation Learning Group will continue to evaluate responses to the manual and update it with emerging information and data from research projects. “This is not meant to be a static guide,” Licht says. “As our experiences and knowledge base grow, we will continue to communicate with producers and provide the best advice we can to maximize their successes with conservation practices.” 

Conservation Practices at a Glance graphic
AT A GLANCE: A list from the manual outlines the various conservation practices covered.

The manual was developed in cooperation with the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance and Practical Farmers of Iowa, and with the support and input from multiple local, state and federal organizations. The Conservation Learning Group is dedicated to addressing conservation and environmental challenges. 

Source: ISU, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. 




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