2019 Conservation In Action Tour
The 2019 CTIC Conservation in Action Tour was held August 20-21, 2019 in central Iowa. From our starting point in Des Moines, we examined a wide range of edge-of-field systems, in-field solutions, and management practices.
This was our 12th annual Conservation in Action Tour, and was, like each year's program, the best tour ever. True to our theme, Conservation At The Leading Edge, this year's tour explored how Iowa farmers are at the leading edge of conservation practices—from the heart of the state's rich cropland to the edges of its fields and the banks of its rivers. The conservation farming systems we saw are scientific, reasonable and cost-effective, helping farmers protect the environment and strengthen relationships with their non-farm neighbors while also improving the economics of their operations.
The agenda included:
Tuesday, August 20
5:30 to 7:30 pm Evening Social, World Food Prize Hall of Laureates, Des Moines
Wednesday, August 21
7:00 am Tour Check-In, Embassy Suites Des Moines Downtown
7:30 am Breakfast, Embassy Suites
8:15 am Depart Embassy Suites by bus (private vehicles will not be permitted on the tour)
Stop 1: Couser Cattle Company, Nevada
Since 1977, Bill and Nancy Couser have been building their cattle and cropping operation into a model of economic and environmental sustainability. Today, their son Tim represents the third generation on the place, and manages the cropping side of the business. Together, the Cousers continue to forge paths to new levels of sustainability, pioneering manure management, stover harvest, cover crops and edge-of-field practices, many of which are demonstrated on their 220-acre AGvocacy Learning Farm. We learned from Bill, Tim and other speakers about:
- Maximizing opportunities for marketing corn and corn stover
- Managing cattle manure to benefit soil health and water quality
- Precision technologies for row crop production
- Edge-of-field practices, including saturated buffers and bioreactors
Stop 2: New Century FS, Melbourne
As trusted advisors, suppliers and custom applicators, ag retailers play pivotal roles in the adoption of conservation practices. At New Century FS Melbourne Service Center—a Responsible Ag Certified facility—location manager Dan Hart and his team introduced us to the world of commercial-scale handling of fertilizer and crop protection products and the individualized, field-scale crop advising and application that help farmers achieve their conservation and production goals. As we explored the state-of-the-art facility, we encountered:
- The perspective of Certified Crop Advisors on supporting conservation goals
- Fertilizer handling, seed treatment and anhydrous application systems
- A demonstration of a cutting-edge precision fertilizer spreader wagon with multi-product rate and placement capabilities
- Ag retailer insight on incentives to conserve crop nutrients
- The FS sprayer operator training simulator
Stop 3: LICA Demonstration Farm, Melbourne
The Iowa Land Improvement Contractors Association (LICA) bought an 80-acre parcel near Melbourne in 2005 as "our own sandbox to play in," in the words of former Iowa LICA chair Tim Recker. Today, it is home to a wide variety of in-field, edge-of-field and below-ground practices. This portion of the tour included more free time to wander the farm or compare notes with other participants. Contractors and engineers served as hosts at various sites around the farm, sharing insight into:
- The contractor's role in implementing conservation systems
- The construction and function of in-field and edge-of-field systems
- An introduction to Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy
- Water quality outcomes of constructed and agronomic conservation practices
Stop 4: Tesdell Century Farm, Slater
Since 1884, Lee Tesdell's family has been farming near Slater. Today, the 80-acre operation is a highly diversified farm that reflects the deep commitment of Tesdell and Cindy Cunningham to soil health, water quality and conservation. One of the most striking examples of that commitment is the farm's prairie strips, which Tesdell planted in cooperation with Iowa State University. He and the university's STRIPS research team use the 3-acre strip project as a demonstration of the power of diversity in building soils, habitat and a bright future for the farm. From Lee and several other speakers, presentations included:
- The land management philosophy and conservation systems on Tesdell Century Farm
- An introduction to Prairie STRIPS: Science-Based Trials of Row-cops Integrated with Prairie Strips
- The latest research on the co-benefits of prairie strips to profitability, soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat
- Seeding cover crops into corn
Dinner and a keynote speech were held at the Jester Park Lodge in Granger.
9:00 pm Arrive at Embassy Suites Des Moines Downtown
Registration for this event closed on August 2nd.
For more information on our past tours, view our archive page.