Field day focuses on soil and water quality practices

Examining some soil during a Legislative field day Aug. 16 at the Dave McLees farm near Cascade are, from left: district conservationist Addie Manternach, NCRS soil conservationist Wyatt Westfall, and Jones SWCD intern Jayden Jorgensen. (Photo by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports/Ag Editor

   Soil and water quality practices such as no-till and the planting of cover crops were emphasized during a legislative field day Aug. 16.

   The field day was designed to visit local sites that show how local farmers voluntarily work with the SWCD and the National Resources Conservation Service (NCRS) to mitigate risks of nutrient runoff.

   It also served as a chance to present Monticello’s Dave Lubben with his awards for being named Conservation Farmer of the Year from both the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Jones SWCD (see related story).

   The event included stops at the Dave McLees farm in Cascade and the Dean Zimmerman farm in Monticello and was hosted by the Jones Soil & Water Conservation District.

   Rep. Steven Bradley was on hand, along with representatives from the Jones SWCD and area farmers.

   McLees said he has been using no-till since 1996. By planting clover, rye and using rotational grazing with his cattle herd, he has seen good results in soil quality.

   “At the end of May we got an inch and a half of rain in a half-hour, and I did not have any wash,” McLees said. “I did not have any water coming down anywhere.”

   “Soil health directly affects water quality,” said Addie Manternach, district conservationist with the SWCD. “If you have healthy soil, the water is going to absorb into the soil. It’s not running off into our streams and rivers, taking nutrients with it.”

   Jayden Jorgensen, a Jones SWCD intern who farms with her father from the Charles City/Mason City area, said she is learning from these practices as well.

   “We’ve been no-tilling for probably 10 or 15 years, and I’ve seen the benefits,” Jorgensen said.

   She added that through CRP checks and soil health assessments, she is learning a lot this summer.

   “I’m getting information I don’t necessarily see farming with my dad, but it’s still super important,” Jorgensen said.

   From the McLees farm the tour moved to Zimmerman’s farm.

   “Dean focuses a lot on wildlife practices,” Manternach said, “some of those wildlife-related things are important for conservation as well.”



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