Field day at Luze Farm will explore benefits, logistics of adding prairie to farms

For Release: August 25, 2016

DYSART, Iowa — Prairie plants are not only an iconic feature of Iowa’s historic landscape and ecology, they are proving to be powerful allies of farmers looking for ways to improve the quality of water leaving their farms.

Research has shown that strategically adding prairie to farmland can significantly reduce nutrient loss and erosion, while building soil and adding critical habitat for pollinators, birds and other wildlife.

Join Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Tallgrass Prairie Center at University of Northern Iowa to learn more about practical ways to use prairie on farms at a field day on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Luze Farm, near Dysart (5718 12th Ave., about 3 miles northeast of town). The event – “Establishing and Evaluating Prairie Strips on Farms” – is free to attend and will include lunch following the field day. Please RSVP for the meal to Lauren Zastrow, (515) 232-5661 or [email protected], by Friday, Sept. 9.

Randy Luze operates Luze Farm with his father, Larry. In 2015 and 2016, Randy established prairie strips on his farm with help from the Tallgrass Prairie Center’s Prairie on Farms program. Attendees will learn about the process for adding prairie strips; evaluating prairie seed mixes; site preparation and planting; how to evaluate prairie plantings, including cues indicating successful establishment; first- and second-year maintenance needs; weed control; and best practices for maintaining prairie strips. Guests will also see comparisons of mowed and un-mowed plots, and three different prairie seed mixes.

In addition to Randy, speakers will include Laura Jackson, director of the Tallgrass Prairie Center; Ashley Kittle, program manager for the center’s Prairie on Farms program; and Justin Meissen, research and restoration program manager for the center.

“Attendees will get to hear from Randy about his experiences with in-field prairie strips, learn technical aspects of planting successful prairies and see diverse prairie plantings on a production field,” Ashley says. “Attendees will also be able to ask questions and increase their knowledge of how prairie can be an important conservation tool for water quality, wildlife habitat and pollinator recovery efforts.”

Ashley adds that the event is also a perfect opportunity for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and technical service provider staff to learn more about how prairie strips can be strategically used on farms to assist pollinator recovery and water quality improvement efforts.

Luze Farm Corp is a fourth-generation family farm. Randy and his father raise seed corn and soybeans under contract for Pioneer Hi-Bred. Randy is an accredited farm manager with Peoples Company and works with his daughter, Mollie, also a farm manager, to incorporate conservation projects for their absentee landowner clients.

Directions: Heading east on IA Hwy 8, turn left (north) onto 12th Avenue and go about 1 mile; the farm is on the right.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 field day season features 25 events around Iowa. All field days occur rain or shine, and 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.

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.

Contacts:

Randy Luze | Luze Farm | (319) 273-2705 | [email protected]

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