DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa State Fair will feature a “Field of Dreams” butter sculpture this year along with its iconic butter cow. Fair officials say the sculpture will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Iowa-based movie filmed at the Lansing Family Farm in Dyersville. The molded butter sculpture will depict aspects of baseball and Iowa’s farmlands. It will join the butter cow in a 40-degree cooler.
The fair will also offer a new interactive exhibit called “Farm with Us.” It will include bushels of corn and soybeans for people to touch and an interactive digital screen. This year’s fair will be held Aug. 7-17.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State University is revising the way its crop specialists work with farmers on the best ways to plant and care for soybeans and corn. Traditionally corn specialists worked with corn growers and soybean specialists worked with soybean producers. Now, however, the university says it’s putting together a new team of integrated cropping systems specialist.
They will focus on how corn and soybean production interacts with soil, weather, cover crops, crop rotation and management practices and support farmers’ use of data-driven technologies in precision agriculture. The team is led by Sotirios Archontoulis, who joined Iowa State in 2012.
Mark Licht, extension field agronomist for central Iowa since 2011, moved to the Ames campus as part of new team.
DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced today (Tuesday) that $1.4 million in cost share funds are available to help farmers install new nutrient reduction practices. The practices eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fertilizer.
“We continue to hear from farmers interested in doing even more to limit nutrient loss and better protect water quality and these funds will help them try new voluntary science-based conservation practices on their farm,” Northey said. “We were extremely pleased by the response last year from farmers and we are excited to have funds available again this year.”
The cost share rate for farmers planting cover crops is $25 per acre and for farmers trying no-till or strip till is $10 per acre. Farmers using a nitrapyrin nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer can receive $3 per acre.
Any farmer not already utilizing these practices can apply for this assistance. Farmers are only eligible for cost share on up to 160 acres. The funds will be made available on Thursday, July 17, but farmers can immediately start submitting applications through their local Soil and Water Conservation District office.
Farmers that have already used these practices on their farm and are ineligible for this funding are still encouraged to visit their local Soil and Water Conservation District office to discuss other cost share funding that may be available.
“By allowing farmers to try new practices on a limited number of acres at a reduced cost we want to showcase the benefits of these practices and encourage farmers to incorporate them into their operation,” Northey said.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received $4.4 million for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in fiscal 2015. These funds will allow the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to continue to encourage the broad adoption of water quality practices through statewide cost share assistance as well as more intensive work in targeted watersheds.
Last year in just two weeks over 1,000 farmers signed up for cost share funding to help implement new nutrient reduction practices on 100,000 acres. The state provided $2.8 million in cost share funding was available to help farmers try a water quality practice for the first time and Iowa farmers provided at least another $2.8 million to support these water quality practices.
Motorists are being reminded to be on the lookout for equipment that’ll be moving through Iowa’s roadside ditches soon. Bob Younie, with the Iowa Department of Transportation, says land owners and others who’ve obtained a permit are allowed to harvest hay from state highway roadsides. The annual program benefits both parties. “It gives farmers a chance to get some hay and it also means the DOT doesn’t have to put labor into doing the mowing and cutting down tall grass,” Younie said. The mowing and haying of roadsides is not allowed to start until July 15.
“The reason for that is to give ground nesting birds, pheasants and so on, a little bit of maturity so they can get out of the way of mowers and haying equipment,” Younie said. There’s no cost for farmers to obtain a permit from the DOT to harvest roadside hay. The permit simply outlines where the mowing and haying is allowed and various safety requirements, such as the use of a fluorescent green vest.
Those doing any haying are also asked to move big bales as soon as possible. “We don’t want those sitting on the right-of-way for any extended period of time,” Younie said. Only one cutting in a roadside area is allowed per year. The roadside harvesting and mowing takes place each year between July 15 and September 1.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The trend toward strong storms and too much rain is beginning to take a toll on Iowa crops. Farmers report yellowing corn plants, a sign of too much moisture, and stress to soybean plants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in its weekly crop update that 76 percent of Iowa corn is in good to excellent shape, a decrease of 3 percentage points from the week before. Soybeans are blooming ahead of schedule and 73 percent of the crop is good to excellent, condition, down 2 percentage points.
Farmers struggled to get into fields again last week, the third consecutive week farmers had fewer than three days to work in the fields. This time of year weed control spraying, adding supplemental nitrogen fertilizer, and baling hay are common activities.
While the World Cup soccer tournament is almost over, it’s being announced that another sport’s World Cup event will be held in Omaha-Council Bluffs. The metro area will host the 2017 World Cup Finals in equestrian jumping and dressage. Lisa Roskens, chair of the Omaha Equestrian Foundation, says there was tough competition from other cities around the globe. “They selected finalists of London, Hong Kong, Omaha and a city called ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which is a horse mecca in the Netherlands that’s hosted multiple World Cups,” Roskens says. “We were really up against some stout competition and really, truly were the underdog in this bidding process.”
She says this will be a world-class competition that will draw up to 90-thousand people to western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. “You will hear languages from every corner of the globe,” Roskens says. “It is a truly international championship and a very exciting competition. The other thing that makes 2017 such a special year is you will get to see the people that were just competing at the Olympics the previous summer.” She says she’s hoping this is just the start of something very good.
“The Midwest is a region ripe for this kind of competition and for this sport to grow,” Roskens says. “I really wanted to use this type of an event as a catalyst to grow our sport across the region.” The equestrian World Cup Finals will be held at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha March 27th through April 2nd of 2017.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — One of the new laws enacted this month allows an increase in the Iowa Corn Checkoff. It’s money collected from each bushel of corn sold to promote the grain. Checkoff funds have been used to promote ethanol, such as sponsoring an Indy Car race. The checkoff can only be increased after farmers approve it in a referendum.
The first authorization on the checkoff in 1977 set a maximum of 1 cent per bushel sold. In 2012 corn producers approved that amount, which meant state legislators had to update the law for the checkoff to go any higher. Corn promotion officials say they have no plans to increase the checkoff, which generates as much as $20 million a year.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A meteorologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture says near-record-setting rainfall last month has nearly eradicated residual drought from much of the Midwest including Iowa. All that remains of the drought in Iowa are two small areas of abnormally dry conditions, one in the southeast corner of the state, and one in the southwest corner. Some areas now have too much water.
Meteorolgist Brad Rippey says in a Wednesday report drought covers just 5 percent of the U.S. soybean area and 8 percent of the nation’s corn. Corn, rated 75 percent good to excellent, has not been rated as highly at this time of year since 2003. Soybeans, at 72 percent good to excellent, have not been rated as highly at this time of year in the last two decades.