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Tips, techniques, tools: 2019 Farmer Research Tour preview

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ISA Senior Environmental Scientist Chris Hay will be speaking at each Farmer Research Tour stop. He is one of several staff who will share tips and techniques and research results at each locale. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

By Carol Brown, ISA environmental communications specialist

The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) 2019 Farmer Research Tour kicks off two weeks from today.

The tour is the main event for the three ISA Research teams to showcase the culmination of their work over the past year. It’s also a great opportunity for farmers to learn tips, techniques and new approaches to better manage crops, inputs and natural resources. Attendees can learn about how products performed on farmers’ fields in their area as well as receive updates on watershed improvements.

At each one-day tour stop, attendees will hear from Analytics, Environmental Programs and Services and the On-Farm Network® teams as well as guest speakers. Tour dates and locations are: Feb. 5 in Storm Lake, Feb. 7 in Ames, and Feb. 12 in Cedar Rapids.

The Environmental Programs and Services (EPS) team will discuss how local farmers are working in priority watersheds to reduce nutrients entering waterbodies in the watershed.

“Farmers are stewards of natural resources and those involved in the watershed improvement projects are also viewed as leaders,” said Roger Wolf, EPS director. “We are using the Watershed Approach to improve the quality of rivers and streams in Iowa and the Midwest. Attendees will learn what the Watershed Approach is and how community leaders are partnering with farmers to accomplish the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

Also, aggregated results from tile water monitoring will be shared. In 2018, ISA collected samples at 613 sites, which included streams, drainage tiles, bioreactors and more.  Edge-of-field drainage practices such as bioreactors and saturated buffers are being installed across the state to help with nitrate reduction in tile drainage. Chris Hay, ISA senior environmental scientist, will discuss how these structures function, how they are installed and the costs associated with them.

The On-Farm Network will share the latest data on soybean production including seeding rates and seed treatments, which could improve farmer profitability. Team members will discuss the latest in weed management, fungicides and nematicides and provide an update on variable rate nitrogen management and tillage in corn.

“Our team conducted 239 replicated strip trials in 2018,” said Scott Nelson, On-Farm Network director. “We are analyzing the data coming from these tests and will share aggregated results for several trials at each location. I also plan to discuss the latest findings on weed management.”

The Analytics team will present information on projects they have focused on in 2018, including the use and collection of quality digital aerial imagery to predict in-season crop stressors and yields. The team will share details on a new project focusing on mapping soybean protein and oil during harvest. They also will demonstrate ISA’s online strip-trial summarization tool ISOFAST.

“ISOFAST is a free dynamic and interactive tool on the ISA website,” said Peter Kyveryga, director of Analytics. “The tool uses historical summaries of replicated strip trials, weather, soil and management variables that impact yield responses to different inputs and practices tested over the last 15 years. We will provide a short tutorial on how to use it and how it can help in decision-making.”

In addition to the research team presentations, attendees will hear from a different guest speaker at each location. Al Kluis will close the Storm Lake and Ames venues, and will speak in Cedar Rapids at mid-day. He is a commodity advisor and broker and authors a regular column in Successful Farming magazine. To see complete agendas for all locations, visit the Farmer Research Tour Agenda-at-a-glance page.

Registration is free for farmers participating in ISA research trials, $25 for other ISA members and $50 for non-ISA members. Registration includes lunch and refreshments. Continuing education credits will be available. Register to attend at the Farmer Reseach Tour website

Contact Carol Brown at:

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