- Agronomic: corn, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Additional Plants: native plants
- Animals: bovine
- Animal Production: grazing - rotational, watering systems, feed/forage
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, value added
- Soil Management: soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
The objective of the Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee (SIFLC) which was established in 1989 as a cooperative effort between area farmers, local business people, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Iowa State University Extension, Rural Economic and Community Development (RECD), and Farm Services Agency (FSA) is to demonstrate an economically feasible and environmentally sound alternative to row crop production on highly erodible marginal land regardless of whether the current land use is CRP, cropland, or pasture.
We are demonstrating and implementing grazing systems and forage production on highly erodible marginal land as an alternative to row crop production. Education of landowners and operators, business people, students, and government agency personnel are key to this project.
SIFLC demonstrates management intensive grazing using beef cattle as an alternative to row crop production. The project consists of a farm in southwest Iowa currently enrolled in CRP made of class IV land with a CSR average of 34. Three different grazing systems established on the farm utilize contour lane systems to move cattle and reduce erosion in the lanes, high powered “New Zealand” style electric fence and several types of watering systems. The fence is powered demonstrating the use of solar power and REC Hi-Line. Four different water systems are demonstrated on the farm, gravity flow, electric pumps using solar and REC Hi-Line, and cattle powered “nose” pumps. This farm demonstrates concepts that producers can use to implement intensive grazing systems on their land.
ISU furnishes cow/calf pairs and “stocker steers” for the grazing systems. These cattle are utilized to demonstrate economic profitability verses row crop production.
Forage interseedings and their benefits have been of special interest to farmers. We have been able to demonstrate the economic and environmental benefits gained. Producers can put this information to work through the use of our Great Plains No-Till Drill that is made available in Southern Iowa to rent for pasture interseeding and establishment.
The transfer of information created by this project is disseminated to our target audience through the utilization of field days, county level pasture management meetings, open houses, grazing seminars, farm tours, speaking engagements, annual reports, articles in newspapers, trade magazines, and scientific journals. Our Two-Day Grazing Clinic held in June of each year is important because it is the only seminar of its kind held in Iowa. Participants attend gaining knowledge from the classroom as well as seeing and participating with a “hands on” approach at the demonstration farm.
SIFLC’s mission statement is to demonstrate an economically feasible and environmentally sound alternative to row crop production on highly erodible marginal land. As the project has evolved SIFLC has encouraged an alternative land use to intensive row crop production on highly erodible marginal land regardless of whether the current land use is CRP or cropland.
The project demonstrates management intensive grazing using beef cattle as an alternative to row crop production on a farm currently enrolled in CRP with predominantly glacial till and paleosol soils on 9-14% slopes (class IV land). Three different grazing systems are established on the farm. These systems utilize a contour lane system to move cattle and reduce erosion in the lanes, high powered “New Zealand” style electric fence, and several types of watering systems. This farm demonstrates concepts that producers can use to implement intensive grazing systems on their land.
Each project year we compile data and summarize our findings in an annual report. To date we have a summary of our “stocker” steer grazing and cow-calf project. The steers gained 1.86 lb. per day for a gain of 232.75 lbs. per acre. The four paddock treatment calf group gained 2.18 lbs. per day for a gain of 183.62 lbs. per acre. The thirteen paddock treatment calf group gained 2.23 lbs. per day for a gain of 195.87 lbs. per acre. The combined calf group gained an average of 2.21 lbs. per day. This along with other data allows us to prepare a table for income and expenses for cropping alternatives on HEL in Adams County. This funnels down the hard data learned from our work.
The results of our project are also measured by the amount of contact we have with our target audience. We personally involved 1,350 citizens in a process of discovery and learning that may allow them to make economic and environmental decisions that will benefit them which in turn will achieve a more sustainable agriculture.
1. Improve the understanding of grazing systems to assist the landowner in seeing the economic potential and environmental benefits when making land use decisions.
2. Demonstrate the use of good management practices on pastureland that will reduce soil loss, reduce nutrient loss, and pesticide loss.
3. Educate our target audience on the economic and environmental benefits of rotational grazing systems verses row crop production on highly erodible marginal land.
4. Maximize profitability