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Farmer meetings are an important connection for ISA

Article cover photo
The soybean gall midge, a pest invading fields in western Iowa and beyond, was the focus of a recent farmer meeting. These meetings are key for ISA research success. (Submitted photo)

By Carol Brown, ISA environmental communications specialist

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) On-Farm Network® is committed to helping farmers improve their productivity and profitability through environmentally sound cropping systems. Most importantly, the On-Farm Network represents research for farmers by farmers.

Regular conversations with farmers are a key to accomplishing this work.

Last month, ISA Regional Agronomist Drew Clemmensen hosted a meeting to expand these conversations. Held at the Iowa State University (ISU) Armstrong Research Farm near Lewis, Clemmensen and ISU Extension Field Agronomist Aaron Sauegling met with more than 25 southwest Iowa farmers to discuss issues relevant to their operations, including the soybean gall midge, a damaging pest found last summer in western Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

“We had a great turnout and great conversations,” said Clemmensen. “From the discussions, the farmers learned they were having the same issues as their neighbors.” Clemmensen said he hopes these meetings can become a regular occurrence as the On-Farm Network team was able to gain valuable insight into what farmers are looking for in future trials.

The On-Farm Network conducts replicated field trials with farmers across the state. The studies help farmers to see how products and techniques will work with their operation and on their land. The regional agronomists collect data at each trial site — from soil, seed and water samples to fertilizer and tillage tests — then analyze the data and report the results back to the farmer.

Both the farmers and the researchers gain knowledge from these projects. Results are compiled and uploaded to the ISA strip-trial database.

 “It was good have my neighbors at the meeting and to discuss the soybean gall midge issue,” said Brent Bierbaum, who farms near Griswold in Cass County. “This problem is new to our area and I’m willing to help the On-Farm Network in any way I can to get answers that will help me and my neighbors.”

Bierbaum said the ISA trials are important as he is always looking for information to improve productivity. He is involved with tile water monitoring and the long-term cover crop study.

In 2018, the On-Farm Network conducted 239 on-farm replicated field trials. The research team focuses on four main areas: soil health, nutrient management, pest management and agronomic cropping systems including precision ag tools.

“Communication with Iowa farmers is so important to our work at ISA,” said Scott Nelson, On-Farm Network director. “The meeting in southwest Iowa last month was the first of several we will have across the state. We love to hear what farmers want to learn and are grateful for their input.”

Another On-Farm Network grower’s meeting is scheduled for Feb. 14 in Atlantic at the Cass County Community Center, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The meeting will include updates and discussion on soybean profitability, weed management, conservation including water monitoring results, and more. The meeting is free and open to the public. RSVP by Feb. 7 to: sderscheid@iasoybeans.com.

Watch for more meetings like these later this winter at a location near you.

Contact Carol Brown at cbrown@iasoybeans.com.

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For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjohnson@iasoybeans.com or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at aputze@iasoybeans.com

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at aputze@iasoybeans.com. Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

©2018 Iowa Soybean Association On-Farm Network®. All rights reserved. On-Farm Network® is a registered trademark of the Iowa Soybean Association, Ankeny, IA.Portions of some On-Farm Network trials are paid for in total or in part by the soybean checkoff.

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