Turkey River Watershed producers are working to reduce flooding and improve water quality. See some of the practices they incorporate into their operations and why they care about the land.
Dick Jensen Farm -
Dick has tremendous passion for land stewardship and cares deeply for the land.
Aaron Anderson, the District Conservationist in Fayette County, stands with Dick at the farm. There are many conservation practices included in this photo including: grassed waterways, direct seeding, filter strips, cover crops, and no-till
Dick and Aaron discuss plans for further conservation practices. NRCS and local Soil and Water Conservation District offices have a wealth of information about conservation practices and potential cost share programs for producers
Testing soil compaction. The gauge never went past the green when testing Dick's soil. The use of no-till and cover crops has kept spaces and pores in the soil which increases infiltration of rainwater and prevents nutrient loss.
The presence of earthworms are an indication of good soil health.
Dick and Aaron are looking over a field that has cover crop and has been no-till for many years
Aaron is pointing out the long, deep roots of this young corn plant.
Dick employs several detention structures or 'ponds' on his property to help prevent erosion. Ponds and detention basins are a critical component for reducing flooding
A no-till field
Brenda and Loran Steinlage
Loran planting corn along a wide buffer strip. Buffer strips protect waterways from surface erosion and nutrient loading
A closeup of strip-tillage. This disturbs less soil than traditional tillage methods.
Precision farming equipment
Planting along a riparian buffer
Contrast between before and after planting
Even after seeding, the cover crop on this field is providing benefits to the soil
Crops can be planted directly into cover crops and sprayed afterward. This reduces or eliminates the gap of time that soil is left exposed before crops emerge and begin growing.
Loran uses a variety of cover crops. This is clover.
Loran is showing the nodules on the roots of this clover plant. The nodules provide a home for nitrogen fixing bacteria called rhizobia.
The Mashek Farm in Winneshiek County is a Heritage farm. Pictured here are the 6th and 7th generations to work this ground.
Heritage farms have been in the same family for at least 150 years
The Masheks are using more and more cover crops in their fields in conjunction with their dairy operation
These calves are wearing collars that regulate their food uptake for each individual animal.
The Masheks have exceptionally clean facilities
This is a new building on the farm. It is very easy to regulate the temperature to keep the animals comfortable in all seasons. It is also extremely energy efficient
When asked why they incorporate so many conservation practices into their operation, Dennis replied, "Because I care about the soil and water and the air we breathe."
Each cow is named and tagged. The calves have the names of their mothers as well
Dennis inherited the farm along with a deep care for the land from the generations before him, and he and his wife Barb are passing those same things on to their children.
Dennis allows his alfalfa to grow taller than most before winter. This allows the crop to come back strong in the spring without re-seeding. The alfalfa is also mixed with grasses to increase the value of food for his dairy cattle. The hay strips between corn strips protect the soil on the Mashek farm.
The Mashek's use this pond for a family gathering area, swimming hold, and for fishing... but it also serves a purpose capturing runoff from upland areas.
Daryl Landsgard is a producer near Gunder, Iowa
Daryl has always had a love for wildlife and proves it by adding critical habitat to his farm like this tree planting. Habitat is added to areas that are too steep or unproductive to farm. The grasses and trees that he's planted also provide benefits for protecting surface waters from nutrient loading and erosion
This newly constructed wetland is providing habitat for many species of wildlife, most obviously several species of waterfowl which use wetlands for nesting
This mallard nest was found near the wetland in CRP grasses that Daryl has planted to protect the wetland
Daryl uses no-till planting methods for both corn and soybeans. He also incorporates cover crops, in this case cereal rye, to protect the soil and build organic matter.
Corn planted into soybean stubble
CRP is planted on steep areas to protect from erosion
A variety of forbs and grasses make up this CRP planting.
The Drillings run a farm in western Fayette County
Dave Drilling is currently running the operation. Dave is also a Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner for Fayette County
Drilling is using cover crops which were aerial seeded to his standing crops. The cover crops provide immediate cover once the crop is harvested right up until germination the following spring
Dave practices strip till when planting corn. Here you can see the corn coming up through the dying cover crop which was sprayed after planting
Another field of corn planted into cover crops. This cereal rye had just been sprayed and had not yet died
Drilling also practices controlled traffic over his fields. This contains the amount of area that gets driven on to specific tracks. All equipment matches so the tires use the same tracks each pass over the field. As evidenced by the taller rows of rye in this picture, plants benefit greatly in the rows that are not driven on.
Drilling is also participating in a project with the Iowa Flood Center to monitor rainfall, soil moisture, and soil temperature across the TRW. Drilling has one of 22 double tipping rain gauges with a soil probe that measures these variables and are transmitted to the Iowa Flood Center in near real-time. This information can be viewed through the Iowa Flood Information System.