Cover crop field day to be held at Kielkopf Farm in southeast Iowa

Iowa State University Extension

Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will host a cover crop field day Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Kielkopf Farm near Fremont. The free event is open to farmers and landowners and includes a complimentary meal.

Cover crops in corn field.

Cover crops offer many benefits to farmers and landowners including reduced soil erosion, weed suppression potential, reduced nitrogen and phosphorus loads entering water bodies, and increased organic matter in the soil. When paired with no-tillage, additional benefits include increased water infiltration and reduced erosion during heavy rain events. This field day aims to equip attendees with best management practices for establishing and managing cover crops to maintain yields during the transition to a higher residue system of no-tillage and cover crops.

Iowa Learning Farms farmer partner John Kielkopf raises corn and soybeans with his father, Ron, in Keokuk and Wapello counties. They began to use no-till on their farm in the early 1990s when the first no-till drills were released. The use of long-term no-till has improved water infiltration in their fields.

“After a big rain, I can drive around and see the water standing in the planter wheel tracks in tilled fields, and can’t even see the planter tracks in no-till fields,” said Kielkopf. “I think this shows where the water is infiltrating.”

The Kielkopfs have also added cover crops to their system and attendees will be able to hear from John about what he found works and what doesn’t. Weather permitting, the field day will provide an opportunity to visit an aerially seeded field of winter cereal rye and winter camelina following corn and a field that will be custom drilled to winter cereal rye and red clover following soybean harvest.

Rebecca Vittetoe, field agronomist with ISU Extension and Outreach, will discuss tips for successful spring cover crop management and planter adjustments for a higher residue system. Liz Ripley, Iowa Learning Farms conservation and cover crop outreach specialist, will share results from on-farm cover crop demonstration trials and resources available to help farmers and landowners make a successful transition to a cover crop and no-till system.

The field day be held at the Kielkopf Farm, 11753 W. Highway 149, Fremont, and will be held rain or shine.

The event is free and open to farmers and landowners, though reservations are required to ensure adequate space and food. For reasonable accommodations and to RSVP, contact Liz Ripley at 515-294-5429 or ilf@iastate.edu. Attendees will be entered in a drawing for Iowa State’s Prairie Strips honey.

Iowa Learning Farms field days and workshops are supported by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.