Road trip ramblings
Guest post from PFI board president Mark Peterson
My wife Melanie and I just completed a two-day road trip that circled a good share of Iowa. We are currently hunting for a newer combine and locally there isn’t much to choose from. We took a swing into Nebraska and entered back into Iowa at Onawa. From there we drove 175 up to US 20. We followed 20 across to Independence, where we spent the night. After a stop in the Ryan area we decided to change it up from my usual hard driving get-there-quick style. We angled home trying to take as many county roads as possible.
In my lifetime I have traveled a lot of these roads, but we traveled on many I never had the pleasure of driving before. Some of towns that we passed thru or close-by included Troy Mills, Walker, Garrison, and Clutier. From there we took a more traditional route of Hwy 30 to Ames. We returned to the county road system visiting Luther, Berkley, Rippey and Cooper, then down thru Stuart to somewhat more familiar roads, Hwys 92,71 and (old) 34 on home.
So what is the purpose of all these mumblings? Observations from the trip:
First of all, Iowa nice does still exist. As I was studying the map outside Troy Mills, a lady pulled up to see if we needed help with directions. Maybe it was the grey hair or the confused looks, but honestly we were checking to see if we would be able to continue to study the growing of grapes in Iowa on our way home. Ok Ok we were looking for wineries!
Secondly, driving thru Buchanan, Benton, and Tama counties we were surprised by the long and sometimes sharp slopes out in the fields. Along with this we were saddened to notice that lack of cover crops on so many of these acres. The same could be said about our drive on Friday both in Nebraska and then along Hwy 175 in Western Iowa. We are finding it hard to believe the number of cover crop acres supposedly planted based on our drive. Looking at the erosion in the fields there is plenty of room for improvement. We came upon a huge amount of dirt blowing Saturday morning, and then low and behold found a tilled naked soybean field.
Finally, on our last stop for the day, we got into a conversation with a woman, and it came out we were farmers. She asked what crops we grow, and of course I mentioned our small grains and other cover crops. The woman had an interest in the family farm, although her father still called the shots on rental. She expressed concern that their present tenant had so far refused to use cover crops, and she was trying to figure out how to change that. We did not come up with any stunning advice as to how to quickly change the situation as they were happy with the tenant otherwise, “We know he is a good farmer,” but it was obvious the desire for cover crops was there.
She did speak proudly of her brother-in-law who she described as a PFI member who uses rye and cover crop mixes to protect his acres. She also mentioned some of the things her father had done to enhance the soil and protect it in years past. I found it interesting that even though she has knowledge of all of this they are still using a tenant who is not protecting the soil.
All-in-all it appears to me we have much work to do moving forward. As you travel this great state of ours I ask you to remember to tell your story, (many of you have very interesting stories), be proud to be a PFI member, and help spread the word on what can be done. It appears to me we have a very long way to go.