Skip to content

Iowa Ag Secretary visits Taylor County

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig visited New Market March 9 and met with area farmers and soil conservation district commissioners and employees for a round table discussion at the community center. About 20 were in attendance with talks centered around the Southern Iowa Land Use Conversion Project.
Taylor County has been awarded three year extension for Water Quality Initiative funding for producers who wish to seed down marginal crop ground starting in the spring of 2022. The program will be expanded into Page County.
Taylor County Soil Conservation District has designed a program for Taylor County and includes four programs.
Mike Naig kicked off the discussion by saying, “I love checking in on how things are going down here. I love this project and definitely want to hear about it. I absolutely consider this to be a model that we’re trying to figure out how we can do even more, especially connecting conservation and cattle, cover crops and cattle.”
Naig pointed out that lessons are learned from these demonstration projects and helps them to look at how they can expand the program.
“This is one of our best and really excited we got to extend it and expand it, said Naig. “It’s because of all of you, this is exactly what is supposed to be happening, which is local ownership, local ideas, and local leadership and we support that at the State and federal level. That kind of ownership you just can’t do without.”
Erin Ogle, Project Coordinator for Taylor County, said the project started in 2016 when Taylor County was first awarded the Water Quality Initiative funding. The program focused on sidehills and marginal acres that have previously been farmed and shouldn’t be farmed. Through this program, they have seeded down over 4,000 acres.
“This is our second extension,” said Ogle. “With this extension, we have expanded into Page County. We have changed our name to Southern Iowa Land Use Conversion Project. We have new partners with Page County.”
Programs include:
Crop to hay/pasture:$250 per acre, one-time payment– five year seeding for cropland or expiring CRP to pasture or hay. This program will be expanded into Page County because there is interest and they responded.
Summer/Fall grazer: Summer multi-species cover crops planted for fall grazing.
“There is not a huge market right now,” said Ogle.
Jerry Fine said they are trying to find someone to purchase oats to possibly use in a premix program or ration program. “There just doesn’t seem to be a market and that would be a big plus in our favor if we can just find a market for oats or small grain.”
Some farmers are growing cover crops, such as rye, and selling it.
“A lot of the rye is used for hay or chopped for silage,” said Fine. “And then they want to go right back to beans.”
Chase Weller said he is buying some rye locally. “A lot of times, you never know the quantity or quality that they will have,” said Weller. “This year, we went through about 1,200 bushels of rye.”
Weller said he did oats a couple of years ago and found a great market in Kansas City. But he didn’t know until he delivered it to the elevator how they were going to grade the oats. Since then, they have contacted him to see if he has anymore oats. This year oats hit a record high.
Naig said they are interested in understanding the implications from a crop insurance standpoint and the second crop or relay crops. “I think there is more that we need to look at. Is there some level of protection?” asked Naig. “If you guys have ideas on how to play in that space, I’d be very open to it.”
Paul Ackley shared an idea on small grains. “It works really good with multi species cover crop mix in grazing. “It gives you some resiliency in that soil, you increase water infiltration ability of that piece of ground.”
Fine talked about the Soil Builder program. A small grain crop is planted and followed with a cover crop the next year, let it mature rather than destroy it, and then pasture it in the fall. “It puts all the nutrients back into that soil,” said Fine.
Ogle added this program is flexible enough to be able to connect people who have land and no cattle with people with cattle and no land for fall grazing.
“We’re doing the right thing from a conservation standpoint,” said Naig. “Yet it’s all about being very productive on these acres and be selective where we do it. We should be focused on the highest and best use of the land being productive and that’s why I have such an interest in what you are doing here and try to model it more in other places.”
Calving Cover. It is new and will be a trial over the next three years. The intent is to utilize those acres that are confined when you bring your cattle home for the winter. Those areas can be pretty abused over the winter. The program offers annual seeding for sacrificial pastures or calving lots. There is a 20 acre maximum and has a one-time payment of $40 per acre. Seeding would be done in the spring/summer for fall and winter grazing.
“We have had some interest in that one,” said Ogle.

Leave a Comment