What are you doing to practice and promote soil and water quality?
On our farming operation, we are no-tilling corn and soybeans. Using cover crops on all acres. We are strip cropping. We own and operate a cover crop business. Through this business, we help farmers change from traditional farming practices to conservation practices. We have copied the business plan that we had developed for our custom strip-till business which was “make it simple for the farmer to start." Our business is a one stop shop. The farmers will tell us what cover crop seed he needs and where he needs it applied and we will take it from there. Part of our business also includes cover crop seed production. We contract growers of oats and cereal rye. The biggest part of our business is education. We host informational meetings, field days, and individual one-on-ones. We want the farmer to have a great experience with conservation practices from the very start. We also do a lot of speaking around the Midwest.
What is being done in your county to support soil and water quality?
We had a small group of farmers that started using conservation practices in the 90’s. This core group became the Rock Creek Advisory Board. This board, with assistance from ISA, developed the first watershed plan based on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Plan, the Rock Creek Watershed Plan. This plan included not only in-field practices but also edge of field practices. I think we still have the largest concentration of bioreactors in the state. We are also blessed with multiple customer operators that perform conservation practices. Some of these practices include strip-tilling, no-till drilling, no-till planting, and cover crop applications.
What could be done with more public funding for soil and water quality?
I think we need something for the cover crop seed producer. The cover crop seed acres compete with corn and soybean acres. The cover crop seed revenue does not keep up with our other crops’ revenues. The other thing that public funds should be used for are the edge of field projects. The practices that the farmer does not get a return on his investment. Practices such as bioreactors, saturated buffers, and buffer strips should be funded and maintained at 100%.