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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Fire, Soil & Byways

In Celebration of Iowa's celebration of Soil and Water Conservation Week, I decided to discuss the prairie burns Penny, John and I saw while in Kansas. The three of us traveled to Kansas to attend the Heartland Byways Conference in Manhattan, and while at the conference had the chance to take a tour of the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.   I was surprised to see the fire so close to the road when we were traveling on the byway. The above image shows one instance where we saw the fire approaching. Our bus and other drivers had to pull over at one point to let the fire move through. The monitoring and safety measures that were put into place were great, and it was amazing to see the fire so close.   So what does fire have to do with Soil and Water Conservation Week? Prairies have a long-standing history of healthy soil and a need for burning and grazing to keep soil full...
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