This year was favorable for farmer Gordon Wassenaar in Prairie City, Iowa. Before the end of October, he finished up his harvest. But after all the crop is gone, farmers have other worries to attend to: soil and nutrient retention.
Wassenaar says, "Harvest has went very well, we've just completed harvest today. We've had very few rainouts. We went pretty much straight through the beans, then the corn. The corn's been dry in the fields, we've had very little field loss."
This is Wassenaar's 62 crop, but his job isn't done. He's working on ways to save his soil, "We went to no-till over 20 years ago and five years ago we just started to try cover crops. We did it primarily for the erosion and now with the new water quality issues. It comes in, it really works. It helps keep the nutrients in the soil."
Now he's an advocate for cover crops and works with his local soil conservation service to experiment.
He says, "We're standing in a test plot, now, that we're doing with the Jasper County SCS and part of them were seeded by hand early. And then, and then part of them with a little drill."
A plane also applied seed to this field. The idea of the plot was to demonstrate different ways of planting cover crops and different varieties like radishes, clover, and cereal rye.
Wassenaar's experience shows off what conservation practices can do, "I don't know of anything that if you're farming row crops that will do any more to save soil than no-till and a cover crop combination."
And that's important now that the crops are in the bins.
Wassenaar says all his land is seeded with cover crops, except for 15 acres, which he's using as a check plot.