41.6 F
Muscatine
Monday, June 27, 2022

Learning Farms evaluation shows uptick in conservation practice adoption

ISU Extension and Outreach
ISU Extension and Outreach reliable information about agriculture, 4H programs, food and nutrition, and family sciences. ISU Extension and Outreach has an office in Muscatine.

Muscatine Living

By Liz Ripley and Jacqueline Comito—Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Iowa Learning Farms recently released a report indicating field day participants have begun adopting more conservation practices.

AMES, Iowa – Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) recently released its 2019 Evaluation Report detailing the impact of multiple education and outreach initiatives throughout the year.

ILF is a conservation-focused education and outreach program for Iowa farmers and landowners based at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Dedicated to building a culture of conservation, ILF conducted 24 field days, 23 formal presentations, 66 community event appearances, and three conferences, reaching 7,800 Iowans.

The evaluation report includes data gathered through on-site comment cards, post-event surveys, and an annual survey mailed to all field day participants. The report details the changing demographics of working farmers and landowners in Iowa, increases in conservation practices, and general understanding of different practices among working farmers.
Key statistics from the report include an up year in cover crop plantings – estimated to eclipse 1 million acres in Iowa. Also, 23% of field day attendees were under age 35, 23% were female and 76% of farmers responding to surveys are using between one and five conservation practices (no-till/strip-till, cover crops, extended crop rotation, rotational grazing).

Another notable insight from the evaluation is the reasons farmers gave for implementing these practices. 51% listed soil erosion and 36% considered soil heath as top reasons for adoption.

These topics bring farmers and landowners to field days, enabling reinforcement of practice value and introduction of additional approaches that can address their needs and help achieve Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy goals.

“With this report, we are very confident that we are able to portray a fair picture of what field day attendees are doing on their farms as well as what cover crop farmers are doing in general, based on the 62% response rate to our year-end survey and 40% response rate to our post field day surveys,” said Jackie Comito, director of Iowa Learning Farms. “We are thrilled with one bright spot in education where we’ve thoroughly socialized the concept of prairie strips in the farming lexicon, moving the percentage of respondents unfamiliar with the term from 84% in 2017 to just 18% in 2019.”

Many positive trends were seen in 2019, but the data collected was not all good news.

Even with an increase in cover crop acres of 16% over 2018, the growth rate is well below the needed trend to accomplish the Nutrient Reduction Strategy goal of 12 to 14 million acres. The report also reflects that only 10% of the planted acres are from new planters, continuing a five-year trend of declines in new plantings by new farmers.

“It’s encouraging to see the rate of increase in cover crop acres is holding steady, however, the majority of that growth is coming from current cover crop farmers adding more acres,” said Jamie Benning, water quality program manager for ISU Extension and Outreach. “We need to work harder to attract farmers and landowners that have never used cover crops to field days and other conservation events to help them understand the benefits these practices can deliver.”

To view or download the ILF 2019 Evaluation Report, visit https://www.iowalearningfarms.org/content/ilf-reports. To learn more about Iowa Learning Farms outreach and education programs, visit them on the web at www.iowalearningfarms.org.

Latest News

Joe Wieskamp and Makenzie Meyer to hold basketball camp

MUSCATINE, Iowa--For many aspiring basketball players in Muscatine, Joe Wieskamp has offered them inspiration, showing them how a local...

More Articles Like This

Muscatine Today

MTS- Brandon is here to talk about Fat Cat

Today on the show Scott Schultz from Impact Fitness and Nutrition is here to talk about more healthy fitness tips. Then if you are looking to get your car cleaned up from the winter listen to today's show to learn about a business in town that can help you with that and more..... Thank you to our show sponsors: Harpers Cycling and Fitness, Beckey Insurance, Muscatine Power and Water, RIVO Plumbing and Heating, ImpactLife Blood Center, Lutheran Living, Toyota of Muscatine, Impact Fitness and Nutrition, Sun Tan City Muscatine, Real Estate Resource Associates, UnityPoint Health Trinity Muscatine and Hy-Vee Muscatine #muscatinetodayshow #goodmorningmuscatine #KindnessIsFree

DMSN Broadcasts

Manta Rays Swim

Join us as the Muskie Boys Basketball team hosts the North Scott Lancers! Watch Your Way: DiscoverMuscatine.com Discover Muscatine Facebook Discover Muscatine YouTube DiscoverMuskie Twitter Muscatine Power and Water Cable Channel 3 Brought to you by Muscatine Power and Water, Muscatine Lawn and Power, Hy-Vee, Bayer of Muscatine, First National Bank of Muscatine, Affordable Metal Manufacturing, Eastern Iowa Power Washers, Arty’s Ice Cream and Grill, Rivo Plumbing and Heating, Riots and Rebelle’s Salon, Bickford Senior Living, Let’s Eat, Muscatine Community Y and the Youth Sports Foundation. #DMSN #MuskieSports #Muscatine #MuskieSchools #basketball #prephoops #prepbasketball

Talk of the Town

People you should know: Mobile food pantry volunteers!

The River Bend Mobile Food Pantry is held 11 months out of the year in the parking lot of the Muscatine Community School District's...

Muscatine Area News

Joe Wieskamp and Makenzie Meyer to hold basketball camp

MUSCATINE, Iowa--For many aspiring basketball players in Muscatine, Joe Wieskamp has offered them inspiration, showing them how a local resident and Muscatine High School...