President, Board of Directors
Mark Peterson is Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Board President. Mark and his wife Melanie farm about 500 acres near Stanton, Iowa, where they’ve been experimenting for several years with different methods to get cover crops to work with their farm. They raise corn, soybeans and small grains using cover crops and no-till practices.
Once again the crew and I were out in the Ranger last Thursday. What a glorious morning to be out! A little cooler than it has been with just a little breeze. When we would stop, quail and pheasants could be heard calling from various parts of the farm. This I attribute in part to the addition of small grains to our farm.
My oats are starting to turn so harvest will be coming. This trip, we were out collecting our bi-monthly water samples. I am proud to be in our second year of sampling in conjunction with the Iowa Soybean Association. All PFI members participating should be proud. Word has reached me that as a group, PFI member water samples are running on average at a much lower rate than the group as a whole. Personally, I’m seeing nitrate levels well below the EPA drinking water standard (10 ppm) from the water coming out of my oat crop and rye cover crop fields. Other Practical Farmers involved are also seeing success when it comes to water quality with cover crops and pastures. While I won’t go into specific numbers, Des Moines Water Works would be happy to have our water come through. To me once again this proves that the practices that we are using on our farms are working, and we need to keep up the good work.
The crew (pictured below) and I were out spraying weeds this morning. This was the first time the older two commandeered their spot in the Ranger, when we came in from spraying, my wife Melanie looked at us and asked: “Is being around that spray safe for the dogs?” Hmm, I see where I stand.
We have been out crop inspecting and spot spraying weeds at the same time. I got to thinking about one small change I made in my spot spraying last year that hopefully helps out one creature that needs the help. I’m sure most of you are ahead of me, but if you haven’t considered doing this you might. I took the weed out of milkweed last year. As I am spraying, I no longer consider milkweed a plant that needs to be terminated; instead I am leaving them for the monarch butterflies. Who doesn’t like seeing monarchs around? Whether you spray or hoe, please give consideration to leaving the milkweed plants alone. Maybe it has been a good year for them, but I am comfortable that we have more milkweed (or should we say milkflower?) on Bentgate Farm after leaving them alone last year.