CSIF Hosts First-of-its-Kind Workshop in Northeast Iowa

07-18-2016 in Events

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – July 18, 2016 –The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers recently hosted a first-of-its-kind event to help livestock farmers unlock the potential nutrient value of their manure. The “Manure: Your Fertilizer Source Workshop” was held on Wednesday, July 6 at the Comfort Inn in Dyersville. Around 60 farmers and agricultural business leaders were in attendance.

Throughout the day-long event, a dynamic group of speakers carried the theme of utilizing manure more efficiently and sustainably. Local farmers, extension specialists and members of the CSIF team contributed their insights on topics ranging from water quality, manure management plans, calculating manure value and improving neighbor relations.

Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, kicked off the event welcoming attendees and reminding them that despite Iowa’s water quality challenges “we’ve got an agriculture and farmers that Iowans can be proud of.”

“We must focus on increasing production, but that can’t be the only thing we focus on,” said Naig. We have to also focus on doing it more sustainably, and having less of an impact on the environment. We need innovation in agriculture…and as long as we’ve been farming, we’ve been innovating.”

Jeff Pape, a northeast Iowa farmer and member of the Hewitt Creek Watershed Improvement Association, introduced one such example of farmer-led innovation at the workshop. In 2004, Pape and other area farmers began an initiative to address water quality issues after a nearby creek was listed on the 2002 impaired waters list.

“Our thought was we want to address this ourselves, so we did,” said Pape. “And I think everybody in the state of Iowa is getting close to the same situation whether it be with nitrates, phosphorus or whatever the case might be.”

Thanks to a financial boost from a modest incentives program, water-shed wide efforts commenced and new management practices were carried out to meet the community’s desired environmental outcomes. These management practices included conducting soil and water sampling, implementing cover crops, planting grassed waterways and adjusting manure application rates.

After ten consistent years of improved production practices, the participating farmers began to see results. According to Pape, phosphorus, nitrate and sediment levels have dropped well below their initial goal. In fact, testing done throughout the watershed during three of the last four years yielded water quality marks within drinking standards.

“Everyone in our program will determine that you’re not going to change what’s happening in our streams in two years, three years, four years,” said Pape. It takes time to get these processes in place, and it takes time for all that stuff to start working.”

Dr. Dan Andersen, Iowa State University, echoed Pape’s message reminding the workshop participants that when it comes to manure, “do the simple things first.”

“The potential value is there, but to capture it we really have to do the right things,” said Andersen. “We have to put the right amount on to the fields that need it. We have to get it on at the right time. We probably have to do that without causing too much compaction…there’s lots of challenges to getting that full value, but no matter what, some of that value is there for us to take advantage of.”

Prior to the event, the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers recognized more and more farmers looking at ways to utilize their manure as a valuable organic nutrient. This observation paired with today’s tight market was the catalyst for the “Manure: Your Fertilizer Source Workshop.”

“We were pleased with the outcome of this pilot event,” said Brian Waddingham, CSIF Executive Director. “Manure plays an important role on livestock farms and in agriculture’s overall production cycle. It was our goal to answer farmers’ questions about managing manure and lowering fertilizer input costs while catering to their regional needs and concerns.”

CSIF is a non-profit organization that assists livestock farmers who want help interpreting rules and regulations, guidance on good site locations for barns, counsel on enhancing neighbor relations and tips on how to protect the environment at no cost. For more information, call 1-800-932-2436 or visit www.supportfarmers.com.

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock responsibly and successfully. It’s a joint partnership involving the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Egg Council, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation and Midwest Dairy Association.

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