Wayne lives in Osage and has been farming there since 1973. He's been actively involved with the Iowa Soybean Association and currently sits on the American Soybean Association board representing Iowa.
What are you doing to practice and promote soil and water quality?
We've no-tilled since 1991 and in 2012, we started experimenting with cover crops and working with the Research Center for Farming Innovation at the Iowa Soybean Association, trying to learn what species to plant, when to produce and terminate, what affects yield, and how to work with them. In 2016 we went to 100% cover crops ahead of both corn and soybeans in our operation, and put in the first nutrient bioreactor in Mitchell county. We also got involved with the pollinator habitat. I represent the American Soybean Association on the National Monarch Pollinator Collaborative.
What needs for soil health and water quality do you see in your region/county?
I would like to see a lot less tillage. We know that tillage is detrimental to soil organic matter, and that's a key to having productive farms. And so if I can get farmers to adopt no-till and strip-till, that puts them in a position then to bring cover crops into the operation. We know with cover crops, we can dramatically reduce the nitrate levels of our drainage systems and rapidly improve water quality. So, I think that's our goal if we can get there and get cover crops over in every acre, we'll see a massive improvement in soil quality and water quality.
What could be done with more public funding for soil and water quality?
I'd like to see a foolproof method to get more farmers in the audience to listen to presenters and farmers doing these practices; that seems to be the struggle. We offer a lot of meetings every year and try to explain what we're doing and how to make it work, and it seems like too many times we're just preaching to the choir. It's already other farmers that are doing these things. I would sure like to be able to up the numbers of our listeners in the audience that are conventional farmers looking and trying to find the path forward into more conservation. Whether that takes a more extensive publicity campaign of some sort, or more publications, more incentives, everything along that line to try and engage that next generation of farmers, I think would be things to look at investing that kind of money in.