Seventeen percent of corn and 19 percent of soybeans are harvested, according to Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship crop report. Published weekly, we're hoping Iowa farmers were able to get in the fields this windy but sunshine-filled weekend.
While crop farmers are playing catch up on this year’s harvest—praying for high yields and more warm October sunshine —another team of farmers are patiently waiting to get in the fields behind the harvesters.
At Iowa Select Farms, plans to replenish 170,000 acres of Iowa farm ground with organic fertilizer have been ongoing for months. Twelve environmental service professionals, 65 manure application teams and 1,600 crop farmers have been working together to execute the 4R Nutrient Stewardship strategy—the right fertilizer, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.
As farm trends come and go, one thing has remained of constant focus: soil health. The premise is simple—the healthier the soil, the fewer the nutrients that will leave the soil and end up in rivers and streams.
According to Jerry Hatfield, USDA Agriculture Research Service (ARS) plant physiologist and conservation ag advocate, swine manure has a distinct advantage to delivering what farmers need.
“The most overlooked value of manure is the role in improving soil quality,” said Hatfield. “Soil fertilized with manure has better bulk density, aggregation, soil organic matter, and soil biological activity.”
Today, Iowa has 26,256,347 acres of cropland, and only 25 percent (6.5 million acres) is fertilized by livestock manure, according to ISU Extension. Iowa Select Farms is responsible for supplying the fertility for 0.6 percent of Iowa’s cropland.
While our contribution may seem small, we're not without enthusiasm. In fact, we're rolling out a series on manure, and hope that you follow along on our crop fertility adventure and help us celebrate the season of soil restoration.