Iowa Learning Farms Hosts July 20 Field Day at Smeltzer Trust Farm PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Monday, 18 July 2011 12:16

AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) will sponsor a strip-tillage and cover crop management field day at the Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust Farm, south of Otho in Webster County, on Wednesday, July 20, from 6-8 p.m. The field day is free, includes a complimentary dinner and the public is invited to attend.

The field day will focus on strip-tillage and cover crop management. Attendees can view in-field demonstrations of mole knife and dual-coulter style strip-till equipment and discuss strip-till management with Gary and Dave Nelson. The Nelson father and son team manage the Smeltzer Farm row crop acres as part of their family farm operation. Strip-tillage marries the best aspects of conventional tillage with the benefits of no-till. Before planting (fall post-harvest, or spring pre-plant) a strip-tillage implement creates strips of tilled soil. Surface residue is left undisturbed between the tilled strips. Corn or soybeans are planted into the tilled soil strips, which warm and dry faster than the rest of the field. This practice offers better water infiltration, improved soil structure, and potential for reduced fuel, machinery and other crop input costs.

Other field day speakers include Sarah Carlson, research and policy director with Practical Farmers of Iowa, who will discuss fall-seeded cereal grain cover crop management and will highlight the Smeltzer Farm demonstration site of corn planted into fall 2010 aerial-seeded winter rye cover crop. Laura Christianson, Ph.D. candidate in the Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering department at Iowa State University, will discuss wood chip bioreactors and other techniques to limit nitrate transport to water bodies. A denitrifying bioreactor is one of many soil and water quality-enhancing features of the Smeltzer Farm.

Bring the family
Visitors of all ages can learn something about Iowa agriculture at the Smeltzer Farm. Families are encouraged to come to the field day to see the Conservation Station. The Conservation Station’s rainfall simulator shows the effects of rain on several different surface scenarios and subsurface drainage including highly disturbed land, no-till and residue-covered surfaces, buffers and permeable pavement. The learning lab portion of the Conservation Station includes displays and activities highlighting why soil and water quality are important to everyone. Kids can become members of the “conservation pack” by participating in the Conservation Station activities.

The Smeltzer Farm is a unique experience as it contains examples of almost every conservation practice that can be put in place. The Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust board oversees the management of the farm and works to develop the farm that Miss Smeltzer envisioned — a learning environment for conservation practices and environmental issues.

Farmers and non-farmers can learn from seeing the row crop demonstration plots, stream bank restoration, waterways and buffers that have been installed on the farm. Webster County Conservation Naturalist Karen Hansen will be at the field day to show families some of the farm features, with the help of Sam Adams, the new Natural Resources Conservation Service District Conservationist for Webster County.

The Smeltzer Trust Farm is located on County Road P59 (Nelson Avenue), 2.5 miles south of Otho, on the east side of the road.


Iowa Learning Farms to Host July 27 Field Day Near Greenfield PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Monday, 18 July 2011 12:15
AMES, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) is sponsoring a field day at the Iowa State University (ISU) Neely-Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm near Greenfield, Adair County, on Wednesday, July 27, from 6 - 8 p.m. The field day will include a complimentary dinner, and information about strategies for no-till as well as information about incorporating perennial vegetation to enhance no-till. Attendees will be able to see and learn about Giant Miscanthus and other perennial energy crops. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Farmers and landowners interested in beginning no-till or who are experienced no-tillers can learn from the speakers at the field day. Greenfield area no-till farmer Randy Caviness will share his experiences from more than 20 years of no-till crop management. Jeremy Singer, research agronomist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, will answer questions about managing fall-seeded cover crops. The benefits of cover crops include enhancing no-till by reducing soil erosion and improving long-term soil tilth and water quality.

Also speaking are ISU Extension agricultural engineer Matt Helmers, who will discuss the potential of integrating perennial prairie strips with row crops to limit sediment and nutrient losses from crop acres. Emily Heaton, ISU assistant professor of agronomy, will showcase Giant Miscanthus plants that are being grown at the research farm. These perennial plants are being tested as an alternate source for biofuel energy production. ISU Extension agricultural engineer Mark Hanna will show farmers how to equip planters for successful no-till corn or soybean planting in high residue levels and will also offer farm energy and money-saving management tips.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their families to the field day to see the Conservation Station — a mobile learning lab that teaches audiences of all ages about the importance of soil and water quality. The back of the Conservation Station houses a rainfall simulator, demonstrating the effects of rainfall on undisturbed soils with a variety of land covers, showing both surface water runoff as well as subsurface drainage. At the front is a learning center with displays and activities to learn about soil and water quality. Kids who attend the field day can become members of the “conservation pack” by participating in the Conservation Station’s activities.

The ISU Neely-Kinyon Research and Demonstration Farm is located two miles south of Greenfield on Highway 25, then one-half mile east on 260th Street and a one-half mile north on Norfolk Avenue.



New Publication Helps Farmers Use Data for Tractor Selection PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Monday, 18 July 2011 12:14

New Publication Helps Farmers Use Data for Tractor Selection

AMES, Iowa – Tractor operations represent a significant portion of annual on-farm fuel costs. A new publication from Iowa State University Extension discusses tractor test data to consider when leasing or purchasing a tractor.

“Fuel Efficiency Factors for Tractor Selection” (PM 2089O) is available to download from the Extension Online Store,

“During the decision-making process, tractor test data can be used to evaluate drawbar power and to estimate fuel consumption,” said Mark Hanna, ISU Extension agricultural engineer. “For example, before purchasing a larger or heavier tractor, consider that at least seven percent of tractor power is commonly required just to overcome rolling resistance created by the tractor’s weight.”

This publication illustrates the most relevant data that are available to estimate tractor fuel efficiency before purchasing a new tractor. Test measurements include drawbar load tests, lift capacity, hydraulic power and power and fuel use during power-take-off (PTO) operations. Tractor test data for tractors manufactured in the United States are available from the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory (NTTL) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“If you’re considering adding new equipment to your fleet before harvest begins, the tractor test data can help you compare newer and older models effectively,” said Dana Petersen, ISU Extension program coordinator with ISU Farm Energy. “Seeking the best tractor to suit your operation can reduce costs by conserving fuel.”

For more tips on energy efficiency around the farmstead, visit or follow @ISU_Farm_Energy on Twitter.

The Farm Energy publications are part of a series of farm energy conservation and efficiency educational materials being developed through the ISU Farm Energy Initiative. The purpose is to increase farmers’ awareness of opportunities for improving efficient use of farm energy. The initiative also will help farmers and utility providers to explore alternatives to reduce farm energy demand and to improve overall profitability in a rapidly changing energy environment.


News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Iowa Farm Bureau News   
Friday, 08 July 2011 12:35

FarmersFeedUs Special Events Planned for 2011 RAGBRAI

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA - July 6, 2011 - Iowa farmers from across the state are joining together to show RAGBRAI 2011 riders what Iowa agriculture is all about. Iowa-raised beef, pork and dairy products will be featured in free samples for RAGBRAI riders at several locations along this year's route, which winds through the fertile corn and soybean fields, green pastures, vineyards and dozens of welcoming rural towns.

Iowa Farmers Feed Us (FFU) showcases the character of rural Iowa's farming communities and the many farmers who provide a wide variety of nutritious, safe food. RAGBRAI riders come from around the country and are socially-connected consumers who are curious about the farms and food production they see on their trip through Iowa. FFU is an initiative designed to highlight farmers' commitment to providing people with safe, nutritious and affordable food, caring for the animals and the land, and supporting their communities, as well.

At each stop, free food samples and four separate collectable FFU bike spoke cards will be handed out by Iowa farmers for riders to put on their bikes. The front of each bike spoke card celebrates Iowa farming with exclusive drawings created by celebrated former Des Moines Register illustrator Brian Duffy. The back of the bike spoke card has a link to the Farmers Feed Us website and a number to enter in a drawing to win the grand prize: a new Apple i-Pad. Participants can look for the red FFU flag at the

RAGBRAI 2011 Expo in Glenwood on July 23 to pick up their RAGBRAI route maps, which highlight Iowa Farmers Feed Us stops, food samples and collectible bike spoke card for the grand prize drawing.

The Farmers Feed Us stops along RAGBRAI 2011 include:

  • Monday, July 25, nine miles north of Kimballton, the signs and red Farmers Feed Us flag will lead to a beautiful cattle farm. Iowa livestock farmers are bringing out the big grills and offering free Iowa beef samples, while supplies last! Bike spoke card #1 offered here.
  • Tuesday, July 26, in Churdan, look for the Farmers Feed Us flag just blocks from the town's elevator, and get your RAGBRAI 2011 photo taken with real farmers and big tractors! Bike spoke card #2 offered here.
  • Wednesday, July 27, at White Oak Vineyards, located at 15065 NE White Oak Dr., outside of Cambridge, you'll find a big party with music, wine and free food at the Farmers Feed Us stop! Look for the big, red FFU flag and your free sample of Iowa grilled pork, while supplies last! Get your bike spoke card #3 here.
  • Thursday, July 28, brave the hills just outside Baxter and look for the red, Farmers Feed Us flag and giant dairy cow located along F17 to get your free chocolate milk, while supplies last!Collect bike spoke card #4 here.

The drawing for the grand prize will take place on Tues., Aug. 2, 2011.

Agriculture is the cornerstone of our economy; farming accounts for one in every six jobs. This year, Iowa's farm groups are happy to work together to show RAGBRAI riders and supporters how today's family farmers provide a variety of safe, nutritious and affordable food.

The 2011 RAGBRAI Farmers Feed Us sponsors include: the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Beef Industry Council, Midwest Dairy Association, Iowa State Dairy Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Iowa Soybean Association.

For more information about the 2011 RAGBRAI Farmers Feed Us event, check out

Braley Introduces Bill to Honor Future Farmers of America PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Alexandra Krasov   
Friday, 08 July 2011 12:20

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-01) has introduced a bill to celebrate the contributions of millions of young Americans and their commitment to American agriculture. The National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Commemorative Coin Act would honor the contributions of millions of young FFA members over the past 85 years through the release of a commemorative coin.

The bill would direct the U.S. Treasury to issue a commemorative U.S. coin honoring the 85th anniversary of the National FFA Organization. Proceeds from the coin’s sale will go to the National FFA Foundation to provide resources and continue outreach and agricultural education. FFA currently has over 500,000 members across the country and more than nine million former members. The bill will have no cost to U.S. taxpayers.

“FFA is an important organization that teaches our young Iowans about the importance of agricultural life,” Braley said. “This bill would honor their work and the work of millions of former members of the FFA. I’m proud to represent many FFA members from Eastern Iowa and I look forward to supporting the organization in the future.”


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