Field day promotes 'culture of conservation'

Liz Ripley of Iowa Learning Farms uses the Rainfall Simulator to demonstrate the effectiveness of various soil practices during a rain event, part of the cover crop and water quality field day Sept. 21 at Central Park. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Brad Mormann of Jones County Conservation speaks to farmers and landowners during the field day event Wednesday.
Pete Temple
Express Sports/Ag Editor

   “The goal is to create a culture of conservation.”

   With that, Liz Ripley kicked off an Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) cover crop and water quality field day Sept. 21 at the Central Park Pavilion near Center Junction.

   The event, which drew about 40 area farmers and landowners, focused on best conservation management practices, particularly no-tilling and establishing cover crops to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff, while improving soil and water quality.

   Ripley, ILF conservation and cover crop outreach specialist at Iowa State University, demonstrated the value of best management practices through the use of a rainfall simulator, part of ILF’s Conservation Station truck.

   The simulator sprayed water into trays that depicted varying types of farmland practices, including intense tillage, conservation tillage, no-till, cover crops and permeable pavers.

   The trays then leaked the water into clear plastic jugs below, showing how the most runoff occurred from the intense tillage and permeable paver trays, while the no-till and cover-crop trays held the water much more effectively.

   Back inside the pavilion, several speakers talked about their own conservation practices and how those have helped in their situations.

   One of those was Dave Lubben, recently named Conservation Farmer of the Year by both the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Jones Soil and Water Conservation District. Lubben discussed how his practices, including planting cereal rye and rotational grazing, have protected the soil on his farm.

   Also on hand was William Roller, originally from Monticello, along with Wes Gibbs. They are Jones County secondary road crew members, and discussed how the use of prairie on the farm and along county road systems has helped improve water quality and soil health.

   Jones County Conservation executive director Brad Mormann then discussed conservation efforts during the Central Park Lake restoration project in 2016.

   Several of the 40 or so attendees chimed in as well, particularly Prairieburg farmer Jason Russell, who offered advice and talked about his positive results with these practices.

   Also discussed were state and federal subsidies for conservation practices that are growing in use. Organizations such as Practical Farmers of Iowa and others can be contacted, Russell said, to learn how to apply.




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