Maple Edge Farm field day will explore soil regeneration practices – July 27, near Hastings

For Release: July 8, 2016

HASTINGS, Iowa — For Jon Bakehouse and his family, there’s a big difference between farming practices that aim to conserve soil and those that strive to regenerate soil.

“Practices like no-till, terraces or even installing grass strips along waterways – those are conservation practices that are an effort to stop further degeneration of our soil,” says Jon, who, along with his wife Tina and parents Bach and Nancy, raises row crops and livestock at Maple Edge Farm, near Hastings.

“When you’re working to regenerate the soil, you’re trying to increase the soil’s organic matter and its carbon sequestration capability. You’re also trying to increase plant diversity in order to feed the soil diversity, in an effort to restore the original diversity of life in the soil.”

The realization that conservation practices were merely halting further soil degradation, rather than restoring soil health, has led the Bakehouses to experiment with a range of practices on their farm, from extended crop rotations with small grains, to using a diverse mixture of cover crop species, to planting shorter-season cash crops that will allow cover crops to grow for longer – and others. They invite farmers and the public to learn about their efforts to regenerate soil at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Wednesday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., near Hastings (55755 370th St., about 3.5 miles north of town).

The event – “From a Soil Conservation to a Soil Regeneration Mindset” – is free to attend and will include a meal after the program. Please RSVP for the meal to Lauren Zastrow, (515) 232-5661 or [email protected], by Friday, July 22. The field day is sponsored by Green Cover Seed, HTS Ag and National Wildlife Federation.

Attendees will learn how the Bakehouse family is trying to build on soil improvements from no-till by trying many strategies on their farm, such as cereal rye drilled after corn harvest; a four-way mix drilled after shorter-season corn and beans; annual seeded pasture as part of an extended rotation; raising small grains; installing small ponds; and letting some persistently wet acres return to somewhat native species.

Jon and his family will also discuss accommodating cover crops with short-season cash crops; innovative ways to plant cover crops; annual plant species mixes for grazing livestock; and the importance – and benefits – of moving from a soil conservation to a soil regeneration mindset.

“If you can increase your soil’s organic matter, you can increase its water-holding capacity and general capacity to sustain itself,” Jon says. “The healthier your soil, the less fertilizer you should theoretically need, and the better your soil can withstand swings in temperature and moisture, like we’ve seen this year.”

Directions from IA Hwy 92: Turn south onto County Road M16 / 370th Street. Drive 10 miles; 55755 370th Street will be on the left (east) side of the road shortly after the “S” curve. From Hwy 34: Turn north onto County Road M16 / 370th Street; drive about 3 miles to 55755 370th Street. The house is on right (east) side of road.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 field day season features 25 events around Iowa. All field days feature farmer-led discussions and farm or field tours. Details are in Practical Farmers’ “2016 Field Day Guide,” available at practicalfarmers.org, or for free in print. To request a guide by mail, call the PFI office at (515) 232-5661.

Practical Farmers’ 2016 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Organic & Natural Meats; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); Iowa Cover Crop; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; ISU Extension and Outreach; ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; RIMOL Greenhouse Systems; Riverside Feeds, LLC; Soil First; The Yield Lab; Trees Forever; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; Welter Seed & Honey Co.; and Willcross Soybeans.

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Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit http://practicalfarmers.org.

 

Jon Bakehouse | Maple Edge Farm | (712) 370-3629 | [email protected]

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]