Conference Focuses on Midwestern Beef Advantages Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Amanda Heitz   
Friday, 15 November 2013 11:55

Midwestern farmers are continually challenged by the need to feed a growing world while protecting and conserving our natural resources. However, the Midwest has an advantage compared to other regions of the United States due to our good soils, adequate rainfall, and intensive animal production systems. Livestock manure not only provides nutrients for crop production, but also helps to improve soil quality.

The most overlooked value of manure is its ability to improve soil bulk density, aggregation, organic matter, and biological activity. “The increase in soil microbial activity provides the foundation for the increase in organic matter in the soil,” says Dr. Jerry Hatfield, Director of the Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment at ISU. “Organic matter increases are necessary for any improvement in soil quality and continual soil biological activity is needed as the sustaining factor in providing the mechanism for incorporating manure into a valuable soil resource.“

Hatfield’s team used on-farm evaluations of manure management to demonstrate that the combination of reducing tillage by utilizing strip tillage systems as a method of incorporating liquid manure greatly improved soil quality. The increased aggregate stability increases the infiltration rate of rainfall into the soil and also decreases the potential for soil erosion.

The value of manure cannot be overlooked and Midwestern agricultural systems have the potential to become more efficient in the utilization of the natural resources, e.g., water, nutrients, and light, with the incorporation of manure as part of the management system. Improvement of soil quality provides the foundation for enhanced crop production and resilience to climate variability.

Hatfield’s project will be featured at the upcoming Driftless Region Beef conference Jan. 30 and 31, 2014, in Dubuque, Iowa. Several of the speakers will focus on the competitive advantage of integrating beef production and cropping systems in the upper Midwest.

The conference will begin at 1 p.m. on Jan. 30 and continue through 11:45 a.m. on Jan.31. Thursday’s afternoon program will focus on the competitive advantage of grain and beef production systems, with an evening discussion focused on extending the grazing season with cover crops and annuals. Friday morning’s program includes three breakout sessions for feedlot operations and three for cow-calf producers.

Registration for the conference is $80 before Jan. 15 or $100 after Jan. 15. Additional information about the conference is available at www.aep.iastate.edu/beef . Registration will open for the conference on Dec. 1.

The Driftless Region Beef Conference is sponsored by the University of Illinois Extension, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the University of Minnesota Extension, and University of Wisconsin Extension. The planning team strives to deliver the latest in research-based information regarding the beef cattle industry. For more information or to receive a brochure, contact Denise Schwab at 319-721-9624.

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