Farmer standing in field in Northwest Iowa

(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)

Clean water equals good beer

May 4, 2023 | Kriss Nelson

May 12, join IAWA and ISA at Chuck White’s farm near Spencer to learn about cover crops, how he uses manure as his primary nutrient source, and no-till and strip-till to be environmentally responsible.

“This is a good way for me to explain how my operation is involved with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, what we are doing to be good stewards of the land, and how we are always looking at better ways to be sustainable,” says White.

To help manage nutrients under guidelines set by the INRS, White has been growing cover crops for the past decade.

“The cover crops will capture any nitrates left in the soil from the corn, so it does not leach away,” he says. “Cover crops are important for that. It keeps the nutrients on the farm and improves water quality.”

White is very conscious about not over-applying fertilizer. He ensures he applies the manure correctly and takes advantage of the late-spring nitrate test to determine if any additional nitrogen is needed for his corn crop.

“From that test, we determine how much residual nitrate we have in the soil, and then we only apply the amount of nitrogen needed,” he says. “That is environmentally responsible and profitable. Farmers don’t want to apply more nutrients than the crop needs.”

Following a visit to White’s farm, visitors will head to West O Brewing for pizza and a brewery tour highlighting the ingredients of water and grain. RSVP here or through the button below.

“When we started thinking about the 10th anniversary of such an important framework for Iowa’s water quality, we thought what a better way to provide education than seeing it for yourself,” says Rebekah Jones, director of communications for IAWA. “We want community members and leaders to come out and see what practices farmers are implementing to improve water quality. There are also ways communities can support their farmers and downstream water. Some partnerships featured in these field days are proof of that.”

Evan Brehm, ISA conservation agronomist, witnesses daily how farmers are working toward the 45% reduction in annual nutrient loss set by the INRS.

“Cover crops have increased over the past 15 years, exceeding 2.5 million acres,” he says. “Farmers and agronomists have become more knowledgeable on how to manage cover crops. Cover crops have shown to suppress weeds which can reduce herbicide passes. Cover crops have also shown to sequester excess nutrients that would otherwise enter our streams, which has enhanced water quality leading to reaching the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”