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Landscape Changes As IA Farmers Look Beyond Corn and Beans

PHOTO: A rye field at the Tim & Ethel Sieren farm in Iowa. CREDIT: Practical Farmers of Iowa.
PHOTO: A rye field at the Tim & Ethel Sieren farm in Iowa. CREDIT: Practical Farmers of Iowa.
June 16, 2014

ROWLEY, IA - It's been called one of the most effective practices for preventing soil erosion and protecting water. A growing number of farmers are extending the traditional Iowa crop rotation beyond corn and soybeans.

Among them is Dick Sloan, of Rowley, who added a winter rye crop to his corn and beans in a three-year rotation.

"I'm trying to find out if I can grow my own rye to use as cover crops," said Sloan. "I've been growing cover crops for three years. Last year I went to farming all of my acres with cover crops and rye is a principal ingredient in my mixes."

Sloan added that growing his own rye will help him reduce his farm input costs while increase his yields. And using cover crops and extended rotations also benefits the environment with cleaner water and less erosion.

"I think that keeping our land productive is going to be better for the health of the soil," said Sloan. "Keeping it producing something year-round, instead of just growing corn or soybeans during the summer, and then not having anything growing there."

Sloan also has 29 species of native grasses and flowering plants that are seeded into filter strips.

"I think it will help the native pollinators and the diversity of species that are living out here," he said. "A place for some of our nesting, native animals and birds, that we can actually see some benefits to our communities by being willing to take some of this ground out of production."

Practical Farmers of Iowa is holding a field day at Dick Sloan's farm this Thursday, to share more information about extended rotations and cover crops.

Learn more about the Practical Farmers of Iowa field days.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA