3 Lessons from the Iowa Water Conference

3 Lessons from the Iowa Water Conference

Several of our staff attended the Iowa Water Conference on March 12 and 13.  The event brings together hundreds of smart, hard-working people that are working  to improve water quality, restore aquatic habitat, and control flooding across the state of Iowa.  We always learn a lot from both the presenters and the other attendees, and come away energized.  Here are our top three lessons we learned this year: 1. Farms can simultaneously improve water quality and wildlife habitat Adam Janke, Extension Wildlife Specialist, talked about how the practices being used for nutrient reduction can also benefit many of Iowa's species of greatest conservation need.  For example, trumpeter swans like CREP wetlands. Migrating ringneck ducks and Topeka shiners use oxbow wetlands.   Meadowlarks use prairie strips. We will be pursuing these kinds of synergies in three watersheds with a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, so it was great to hear specifics. 2. Retailers of agricultural products need to be part of water quality solutions Chris...
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Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Springs into 2018

Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Springs into 2018

It is finally March and with that comes the promise of Spring! The Byway is gearing up for a wonderful 2018. We are into grant writing season and as we wait for large state-wide projects to come to fruition, we are happy to tackle  smaller localized ones. One project just completed was for the community of Westside. The residents recently developed a park, the Eugene Kock Memorial Park, in honor of a local man who lost his life in Vietnam many years ago. The park has engraved paver bricks that can be purchased, seating for visitors, and a military sculpture placed in the center. The area is flanked by flags and soon will have an interpretive panel we created about the community placed there as well. We continue to work with the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) on other interpretive panels. Three smaller ones will be placed in the City of Jefferson's east entrance as part of their improvement project. The panels will...
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Climate Change Impacts on U.S. Midwest Row Crop Agriculture

Climate Change Impacts on U.S. Midwest Row Crop Agriculture

I have done quite a bit of research on climate change and its impacts on Iowa agriculture in the past couple of weeks. This post is to summarize what I have learned, discovered, and still have questions about. The information sources I used were unanimous in a few things, including the fact that our climate naturally changes over time, humans (urban and rural) are speeding up the climate change process, and the effects that climate change will have on our beloved Earth are detrimental. According to the National Academy of Sciences, “it is unequivocal that the climate is changing, and it is very likely that this is prominently caused by increased human interferences with the atmosphere. These changes will transform the environmental conditions on Earth unless counter-measures are taken. Our present energy course is not sustainable.” Scientists have identified the culprit as emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxides (N2O), methane (CH4), and other “greenhouse gases” that build up in the atmosphere,...
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Field Day: Soil and Water Health in Action

On November 7, 2015 Prairie Rivers of Iowa hosted an informational field day which included a tour of two farms near Stratford, Iowa. The beautiful, crisp day filled with sunshine and pastoral landscape views created a perfect setting for learning about soil and water conservation practices such as prairie buffers, filter strips, wetlands, rotational grazing, and cover crops. The highlight of the day for many of the attendees was the hay-rack tour. It was a classic way to learn about two Iowa farms and their stewards. It's definitely safe to say that both the farmers and the group covered a lot of ground. The first stop of the tour was at a ridge on Jim and Anita Johnson's farm, Prairie Hill Farm of Hamilton County. From this location you could see the prairie field borders, a prairie filter strip, and a wetland surrounded by a large riparian area. This area intercepts water draining off their farmland, which includes rotational cattle pasture and row crops. It also intercepts some...
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Local Food Cycle on KCWI Great Day Show

Prairie Rivers of Iowa is bringing back the Local Food Cycle again this year. The Local Food Cycle is a culinary bike ride that is a special event where bike riders tour local farms, meet farmers and eat delicious culinary delights prepared by area chefs. This year’s ride is through eastern Story County. We were fortune enough to be a guest on KCWI Channel 23 Great Day show on Friday August 14th. Jessica Johnson, Prairie Rivers of Iowa’s Marketing Coordinator and Emily Zimmerman, with the Sustainable Agriculture Student Association were the interviewees. To register and find out more about the stops visit www.prrcd.org/bike Listen to the interview below: ...
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USDA Provides Greater Protection for Fruit, Vegetable and Other Specialty Crop Growers

Read the press release from the USDA about the greater protection is now available from the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for crops WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that greater protection is now available from the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for crops that traditionally have been ineligible for federal crop insurance. The new options, created by the 2014 Farm Bill, provide greater coverage for losses when natural disasters affect specialty crops such as vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, floriculture, ornamental nursery, aquaculture, turf grass, ginseng, honey, syrup, and energy crops. "These new protections will help ensure that farm families growing crops for food, fiber or livestock consumption will be better able to withstand losses due to natural disasters," said Vilsack. "For years, commodity crop farmers have had the ability to purchase insurance to keep their crops protected, and it only makes sense that fruit and vegetable, and other specialty crop growers, should be able to purchase similar levels...
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CSP Contract Renewal Process Begins Next Month

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation (NRCS) will begin accepting applications to re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) on July 11, 2014.  This renewal option is specifically for farmers and ranchers who enrolled in CSP initially in 2010. CSP is a comprehensive working lands conservation program that provides technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to actively manage and maintain existing conservation systems and to implement additional conservation activities on land in production.  Through CSP, participants take steps to improve soil, water, air, and habitat quality, and can also address water quantity and energy conservation issues. CSP contracts last for five years, at which time they are eligible for renewal.  There are approximately 20,000 farmers and ranchers with CSP contracts that will expire this year, totaling over 20 million acres that can be re-enrolled to preserve and expand upon critical environmental benefits. These 20,000 contracts eligible for renewal began under two different enrollment periods in 2010.  One group...
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WFAN’s Iowa Female Farmer Veteran Network project

June 17 & 18th is a networking event in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids for women military veterans looking to start a career in farming. These FREE events will begin at 6pm, featuring local food and drinks. To learn more about the Women, Food and Agriculture Network’s Iowa Female Farmer Veteran Network Project here.   Pre-registration is required by Saturday June 14th at 5pm. You can register for the Cedar Rapids event online at this link, and for the Des Moines event at this link. You may also call WFAN at 515 460 2477 and leave your name. Please call the same number or email with any questions.   Tuesday, June 17 will be located at Easter Seals Iowa Camp Sunnyside, 401 NE 66th Ave, Des Moines, IA, or Wednesday, June 18 will be located at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 50 2nd Avenue Bridge, Cedar Rapids, IA.   Women, Food and Agriculture Network is a non-profit, educational organization formed in 1997 to provide networking, information and leadership development opportunities to women involved in all...
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Free webinars from the University of Illinois Extension

The University of Illinois Extension is hosting some free webinars that may be of some interest. You can attend these webinars from the comfort of your home, on your home computer. For those that can’t attend during the day, they will all be archived for viewing at a later date.   Topics for this years’ webinar:   Jan. 16- Organic overview Jan. 23- Pumpkins Jan. 30- Small scale composting Feb. 6- Organic insect management Feb. 13- Organic disease management Feb. 20- Organic weed management Feb. 27- Asparagus production March 6- Orchard insect management March 13- Orchard management March 20- Orchard disease management March 27- Ethnic markets.   There is no cost to attend these sessions. You must register to receive the log on instructions. Our home page allows you to register for any of our programs, simply select “winter webinar series” at web.extension.illinois.edu/abhps   They also have the previous years’ webinars archived for your viewing. These are available on our home page, under the “Local Food Systems and Small Farms” icon. Topics are varied and most will cover some...
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