In a grassy area on the Key Coop property, west of Nevada, Prairie Rivers of Iowa (PRI) hosted a field day June 27, in the late afternoon/early evening hours.


Kayla Hasper, PRI watershed coordinator, said the nonprofit organization is working on many issues related to natural and cultural resources, one being watersheds.


“In order to bring awareness to water quality and soil health issues to agricultural producers and watershed citizens, we must use a variety of outreach and education tactics,” she said, about why the field day was being held. Along with field days and workshops, Hasper said PRI also uses creation and publication of technical resources, presentations to various organizations and groups in the watershed, along with many other multimedia outreach methods to promote their awareness messages.


Last week, over 30 people — a mixed crowd of farmers/landowners, general public and partner organizations and companies’ representatives — attended the field day.


What did they learn during the event from the various presenters who took part?


Hasper said they learned about various topics related to soil health and water quality, and programs that local organizations have created surrounding these topics.


Hasper shared information during the field day on PRI’s Watersheds and Waterways Program; working in Squaw Creek Watershed, Keigley Branch-South Skunk Watershed, and other watersheds in Story County. She provided education on both soil health/water quality and on how to install conservation practices on agricultural land through a cost-share program.


Story County Conservation presented its work in water quality issues in the county. Mike Cox, director of Story County Conservation, explained the county’s work in the Hickory Grove Lake watershed to improve water quality from the significant impairments of bacteria, sediment and nutrients. He also explained other projects going on, including water testing in the East Indian Creek watershed, countywide assessments of watersheds and various education and outreach efforts.


Tim Couser, a local Nevada farmer, shared his experience with conservation practices at his family’s operation. Couser has utilized cover crops in his operation to build organic matter, reduce the tillage needed and reduce phosphorus loss from erosion. He expressed the importance of seeking information online and from other resources in order to think of healthy soil as a “line item” in one’s farming budget.


Other speakers included Dana Holland with the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Story and Marshall counties. Holland spent time explaining the variety of conservation practices available to farmers and the programs they can enroll in for installation of those practices.


Representatives of the agronomy team and the CENTROL precision agriculture team at Key Cooperative spoke to the attendees about their SUSTAIN program for Key Cooperative customers. Options for nitrogen stabilizers and alternative application methods for nitrogen are examples of what producers can do in order to be a part of the SUSTAIN program.


When it comes to conservation and natural resources, Hasper said, “There is always more to learn.” She said events like the field day, where numerous experts are gathered together sharing their wealth of knowledge, is a great opportunity for everyone. “I am continually amazed at what local producers and organizations are capable of – and our field day was a testament to that. We had a great farmer speaking on his soil-health mindset when farming, as well as many local professionals working on watershed issues.”


Hasper said PRI’s Watersheds and Waterways program will continue to host events like the one last week, as well as hosting workshop-style events in the future.


“I encourage you to look at our website (www.prrcd.org) and check us out on social media for more information on what all we have going on in our local watersheds,” she said. “We also have online publications and videos so that you can learn from home.”


Hasper thanked the sponsors and partners for last week’s event, which included: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Key Cooperative, Story Soil and Water Conservation District, Story County Conservation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Districts of Iowa.