Tour Overview

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Highlights from guest speakers

The keynote speaker in Storm Lake was Erin Hodgson, an Iowa State University extension entomologist, who provided details on the soybean gall midge.  She said the first report of the soybean gall midge was in Nebraska in 2011 and has since been reported in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. The pest is so new, researchers are scrambling to learn as much and as quickly as they can. Entomologists in Nebraska recorded soybean field loss from 20 to 100 percent, Hodgson said. She plans to research the life cycle this summer with a goal of 100 gall midge cages located on research and private farms in western Iowa. 

Dan Freiberg, president of Premier Crop Systems, was the featured speaker in Ames. He spoke about farm data and how his company works with farmers’ and their field data to improve profitability. Freiberg said, “it’s not about the highest yield farmers can achieve, but the most efficient yield.” He suggested farmers should think that “everything agronomic is economic.”

At the Cedar Rapids stop, Utilities Director Steve Hershner spoke to the group on how the city is working with farmers and landowners upstream for improved water quality. The City of Cedar Rapids is a lead partner on the Middle Cedar Partnership Project (MCPP), a $4.3 million water improvement project in five HUC-12 (Hydrologic Unit Code) watersheds covering 135,000 acres. Cedar Rapids sits at the base of the Middle Cedar watershed.

Through the project, the City leverages funds to help pay farmers and landowners for the installation bioreactors, saturated buffers, and adoption of practices like cover crops and nitrogen management. All these contribute to the non-point source reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus. Hershner said ISA’s assistance has been invaluable in navigating the MCPP journey.

Attendees heard from Al Kluis at each venue. The long-time commodity advisor and broker urged farmers to spend more time working on selling their crops, commenting that most farmers spend 98 percent of their efforts growing the crop and only 2 percent marketing it. He also reviewed 2018 markets, and offered his insights for 2019.