Did you see a swarm of thistle caterpillars in the field this year? Do you think corn earworms or corn rootworms ate away some yield? Iowa State University Extension field agronomists are seeking your input on what problematic insect pests you experienced this year via their #WhatAteMyBushels statewide campaign.
The ISU agronomists are gathering information from producers, retailers and crop consultants across the state to find out more about the worst insect pest problems that occurred during the 2019 growing season. They are also asking you to take a moment to complete a short survey.
“Taking time to note what insect pests were a problem this year can help us all as we start planning for the 2020 growing season,” says Meaghan Anderson, ISU Extension field agronomist. “Understanding what your challenges were can create opportunities for us to better share valuable resources to help everyone do a better job of managing pests, as well as understand where we need to gather more information and research for future years.”
The information provided in the survey will be used to help direct future programming efforts. “We will be posting more on the topic of insect pests and share information learned from the Qualtrics survey,” Anderson says.
Also, if you are on Twitter, join the ISU Crops Team in a conversation about the insect pests and concerns you have or had this growing season using hashtag whatatemybushels (#whatatemybushels).
ROOTWORM INJURY: Corn rootworm remains an important pest with potential to cause significant yield losses and increase lodging.
Field days reflect difficult growing season
A wet growing season caused challenges for farms across the state in 2019, including at Iowa State University’s Research and Demonstration Farms.
Faced with the same issues as farmers, most of the 13 research farms decided to include weather-related topics for their field days, including delayed and prevented planting, weed and nutrient management, cover crops, and harvest considerations.
Despite the challenging year, field day attendance topped 15,300: on par with previous years.
“This past year was very wet, so the topics, to some degree, had to do with the weather,” says Mark Honeyman, associate dean for operations at ISU. Many of the research farms experienced delayed planting. But by August and early September the state saw an extensive dry period, followed by return of heavy rain in late September.
By fall, the field days were focusing on how to deal with crops in differing stages of maturity, from one field to another, and late harvest considerations, notes ISU Extension field agronomist Virgil Schmitt.
Making an impact
Because the farms are spread across the state, they give producers in each region a realistic look at how an idea might work on their own farm. More than 130 ISU faculty members use the farms for teaching, research and Extension.
“If you can see it, you learn so much more than just hearing about it,” Honeyman says. “Seeing is a powerful educational tool.”
Three of the field days featured a talk by Dan Robison, dean of ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Robison began his duties as dean in January and made an effort to visit the farms during field days and on other occasions.
The research farms also attracted several hundred high school students in 2019, during youth-oriented field days. More than 650 youth attended field days in September, where they were exposed to the science and technology of agriculture, as well as potential careers.
Honeyman says it’s important to reach out to nontraditional audiences, including youth, so that the farms can provide maximum learning opportunities for the public.
Focusing on future
Several new improvements are underway or in planning stages at the research farms and within the university.
The farm at Crawfordsville is planning a new education and shop building, and ISU is actively building a new poultry research farm near Ames, named the Robert T. Hamilton Poultry Farm. Also being built are a rolling high tunnel at the Horticulture Station in Ames, a materials storage structure at University Compost Facility at Ames, and a renovation of the beef cattle feedlot facilities near Lewis.
Numerous new water quality research layouts have also been installed this summer including a bioreactor at the farm near Sutherland, several saturated buffers near Boone, and two sets of individually tile drained plots near Ames. In September, the university broke ground for the new Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex in Ames, with an expected completion in summer or fall.
The research farms will kick off the 2020 field day season in the spring, with dates and locations to be announced.