The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the opportunity to spend the summer in an Iowa state park is available for individuals who serve as campground hosts. Campground hosts receive free camping at a designated site while they help state parks staff by assisting campers, explaining park rules, helping with registration and serving as an impromptu local tour guide. Hosts help park staff to keep the park clean and with light maintenance.
Hosts are needed for the season at Clear Lake, Geode, Lake Wapello, Nine Eagles, Pikes Peak, Pleasant Creek, Prairie Rose, Springbrook, Viking Lake and Wapsipinicon. The camping season is April 1st to October 31st. Applications are available online at www.iowadnr.gov/volunteer then click on the campground hosts link in the column on the left. Or, call 515-242-5704 to have an application mailed.
Applicants will have a federal criminal history and drivers’ license check as part of the process. Officials say the would like to get hosts placed in parks by mid-March so they are ready to go in April.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Farmers attending the Iowa Power Farming Show next week in Des Moines will get a chance to learn about promoting soil conservation and health by planting cover crops. Cover crops are plants seeded on corn and soybean fields during the off season to help control weeds, prevent soil erosion, and promote soil health.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says the workshops hosted by Iowa Farm Bureau will help farmers find direction on choosing the right cover crop seeds, receive information on application and termination of cover crops, and learn more about how cover crops fit with a livestock operation.
The Iowa Power Farming Show runs Jan. 28 through 30 at Iowa Events Center. It is expected to draw 20,000 people to see the latest in farm equipment and technology.
CHEROKEE, Iowa (AP) – The 60 workers who lost their jobs at the Tyson plant in northwest Iowa’s Cherokee could return if business were to pick up and more production were needed. After Friday’s layoff, the plant still employs about 500 people. The plant produces deli meats.
Tyson spokesman Dan Fogleman says the company will be working with the 60 to see whether they meet job requirements for openings at Tyson’s other northwest Iowa plants. And, he says, jobs also could open up with normal attrition at the Cherokee plant. Tyson finished an expansion at the Cherokee plant in 2010 after it shifted production from an Oklahoma plant. The Cherokee plant has lost a couple hundred jobs in recent years.
ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa high school seniors with plans to pursue agricultural studies in college have a chance at some scholarship money. The Iowa Soybean Association is offering 10 scholarships worth $1,500 each. A student in each of the state’s nine crop districts will be awarded a scholarship. Officials will then select one student from that winning group for an additional $1,500 prize.
Applications, which include an essay and recommendation letters, are due March 1. The winners will be announced April 15. The association says scholarship recipients work in agriculture careers that range from sales to research.
AMES, Iowa (AP) – As the use of small crates to confine pregnant sows is phased out in large-scale pig operations, an Iowa State University swine expert says pork producers have some difficult and potentially costly decisions to make about how to handle pregnant sows.
Tyson Foods and Smithfield Foods, two leading pork producers, are moving away from using gestation crates, small enclosures which limit movement of pregnant sows.
Increasing pressure from retailers, consumers, and animal rights activists is forcing the change.
Iowa State University swine veterinarian James McKean says allowing multiple sows to share more spacious pens requires producers to retrofit existing facilities or build new ones, which could be expensive.
The European Union banned the use of gestation crates last year and other countries are considering similar polices.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Economic growth will likely slow in rural parts of 10 Midwest and Western states in the months ahead. A monthly survey of rural bankers released Thursday shows the region’s overall economic index falling to 50.8 in January from December’s 56.1. The index ranges from 0 to 100, and any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor in the months ahead.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says declining farm prices are hurting the economy. And most bankers say they expect the economy to be hurt by the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reduce the amount of ethanol that must be blended into gasoline.
The report covers rural parts of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
AMES, Iowa (AP) — An agronomy professor at Iowa State University is developing a way to determine how much soil is lost from farm fields from sudden heavy rain. Downpours can create what is called ephemeral gullies — temporary washouts that carry valuable topsoil from fields. Agronomy professor Richard Cruse is leading a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Integrated Water Quality Program project to study the issue and develop better ways to control such erosion.
Global studies show that the world’s cropland is losing topsoil faster than new soil is forming, reducing cropland’s fertility. Such erosion also increases the amount of phosphorous and nitrate carried into streams, lakes, and rivers. Cruse says the land’s ability to retain water also decreases as more sediment is washed down a river leading to even more erosion.
Cass County Conservation Director Micah Lee provided the County Board of Supervisor’s with a quarterly update on the department’s activities during his report Wednesday morning. Lee said with the Winter months comes a decrease in the amount of work they can accomplish, but prior to the season setting in, Cold Springs State Park was winterized and closed for the season. The preparation included tree trimming along the roadways, and the off-season assembly of new picnic tables.
He said everything that needs to be replaced at Cold Springs should be completed by the time the park opens in the Spring. A new 40-foot driveway will also be installed and completed after loads of dirt is received. At the Nodaway Wildlife Area, trees were removed and parking lots posts were replaced, after someone yanked them out to gain vehicle access.
General clean-up and maintenance were conducted on the T-Bone Trail and at the Pellet Memorial Woods, where a split-rail fence was replaced. Lee said the State Forester is looking into getting approval for the removal of some invasive tree species. At the West Nodaway Wildlife Area, native grasses and brome grasses were planted over a 15-acre area, which should help to bring pheasants and other wild life to the area.
They also planted 90 trees in the Outdoor Education Classroom area over the past Summer and wrapped cages around them to prevent damage from deer rubbing against the trees. Work is also nearly complete on the pit toilets. Other clean-up and maintenance work was conducted on the Hitchcock Recreation Area. Lee said Cass County Naturalist Lora Kanning saw around 700 people during the last quarter through 35 programs held in the County.