Tama Women, Land & Legacy Educates on Conservation

Tama County Women, Land & Legacy recently held an event on conservation options for land owners. Below is a re-cap of their event from Tama WLL team member Melody Bro.

For farm operators, it can sometimes be frustrating when they want to add conservation practices to the ground they rent and the landowner doesn’t understand the practices’ long-term benefits. On the flip side, how can a landowner effectively approach his or her renter about adding practices to the renter’s “Conservation Toolbox” in order to improve or sustain the farm’s productivity?

Seventeen Iowans attended Tama County Women, Land & Legacy’s January 30 learning session, Conservation Speak: How to Talk With Your Landowner or Tenant.

Panel participants included producer Kristi Heffelmeier, who has returned to her home territory to farm with her dad, Chris Foss. Kristi also serves as a Black Hawk Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) Commissioner. She and Chris continue their family’s conservation legacy on their own farm and on land rented by several landowners. One of these landowners is Charlene Keiper of La Porte City, who also participated in the panel discussion. Both shared their perspectives’ insights on using practices in the Keiper farm’s “Conservation Toolbox.” They provided those present with an incredible opportunity to learn about different conservation practices, how they function to improve soil health and water quality, and options for rental agreements and sharing practice inputs.

Another panelist was landowner Jane Knoop of Traer whose tenants have educated her


CRP Buffers protect waterways from erosion and contaminants.

on conservation practices they have incorporated on her Century Farm. Among these practices are Conservation Reserve Program buffers along Twelve Mile Creek and one of its tributaries. These grassed areas protect the streams by filtering sediment and other contaminants from overland flow and slow any runoff to non-erosive velocity. The buffers and other conservation practices partner to protect Jane’s family farm from erosion while improving the quality of water which ultimately drains to the Cedar River. This conservation effort gleaned Jane the Tama SWCD’s 2017 Buffer Initiative Award. Jane says of her renters, Jon and Larry Winkelpleck, “They have been very helpful in what I have done for the land!”

The interactive panel discussion was followed by Liz Juchems Ripley of Iowa Learning Farms (ILF). She shared Iowa State University research on conservation and introduced two of ILF’s publication series, Talking With Your Landlord and Talking With Your Tenant. Besides these series on how to have conservation conversations, Liz’s presentation included conservation practices that reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loss from farm fields. Of these, she focused on cover crops and their economic value, effects on row crops, and water quality benefits.

This learning session was Tama County Women, Land & Legacy’s 38th event since it began in 2007, part of a statewide USDA outreach project. Watch for upcoming information on its March 25th event on farm financial software. It will be held in the evening at the Tama County office of ISU Extension & Outreach in Toledo (note: this event was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Stay tuned for re-scheduling information). For more information about Tama WLL events, contact team member Melody Bro, melody.bro@ia.nacdnet.net.

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