A virtual field day will be held 1 p.m. Sept. 10 on using perennial vegetation around the edges of fields to improve soil, water and wildlife. The webinar is hosted by Iowa Learning Farms in partnership with the Iowa Nutrient Research Center and Conservation Learning Group.
Floyd County farmer Dennis Staudt and Mark Licht, an Iowa State University assistant professor in agronomy who is also an ISU Extension cropping systems specialist, will lead the discussion.
The prairie pothole region starts in central Iowa and runs northwest into Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota and across the plains of Canada, covering nearly 173 million total acres. Even with subsurface tile drainage systems in place, many of these small prairie potholes are associated with high production risk and often represent the lowest profitability areas within a field.
Put marginal land to good use
An ISU Conservation Learning Group project led by Licht and funded by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education group is working with Staudt and three additional Iowa farmers to convert marginal land areas to perennial vegetation to evaluate the return on investment and explore the potential benefits to water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat.
“The edge of the field was seeded to perennial vegetation this spring, and borders on a creek that runs from a drainage district and passes downstream,” Staudt says. “The creek is in the ditch, however. In rainy seasons, it fills up the creek, and it actually goes over the road in places, and likewise comes into my field. On average, I was able to harvest a profitable crop, 1 out of 3 years. I am hopeful this project will result in less grief in maintaining and harvesting that area while conserving the soil.”
To participate in the live virtual field day at 1 p.m. Sept. 10, go to ISU’s Zoom page or visit Iowa Learning Farms and click “Join Live Virtual Field Day.” Or call 312-626-6799 or 646-876-9923; the meeting ID is 914 1198 4892.
The field day will be recorded and archived on the ILF website so that it can be watched at any time. Participants may be eligible for a certified crop adviser board-approved continuing education unit. Information about how to apply to receive the credit (if approved) will be provided at the end of the live field day.