Field day at Tesdell Century Farm near Slater

Staff Writer
Tri-County Times

When farmland owner Lee Tesdell started working with his tenant-farmers, neighbors Michael and Charles Helland, he felt the relationship was a natural fit: Not only are the Hellands open-minded about trying on-farm conservation practices, Lee says he and the Hellands actively collaborate on management, cost-sharing and learning.

“That kind of landlord-tenant relationship is critical when it comes to conservation practices,” said Lee, who owns Tesdell Century Farm near Slater. “If the landowner and land operator aren’t on the same page with conservation, it’s not going to work.”

Lee will share his experience with building an effective landowner-tenant relationship at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day he is hosting on Wednesday, July 13, from 5-8 p.m., near Slater (300 NW 158th Ave., a few miles southeast of town). The event — “Conservation Practices on a Century Farm” — is being held in partnership with the Central Iowa Watershed Management Authority Water Quality Initiative Project. It is free to attend and will include a meal (using some local ingredients) catered by Victor’s Mexican Restaurant in Huxley. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow at or 515-232-5661, by Friday, July 8.

The field day is sponsored by Grassland Oregon, Heartland Co-op, HTS Ag, Iowa Energy Alternatives and Prudenterra.

Attendees will learn how Lee and the Hellands work together to address soil conservation and water quality issues by implementing cover crops, no-till, buffers and other practices — including edge-of-field practices for soil and nutrient conservation, and a woodchip bio-reactor. Guests will learn about each of those conservation practices, as well as the role of an effective landowner-tenant relationship in advancing land stewardship goals. Lee also has a photovoltaic solar array installed on his property and will share details on that system.

Speakers will include Michael and Charles Helland; Adam Kiel and Keegan Kult, Iowa Soybean Association; Paul Miller, Natural Resources Conservation Service; Amanda Brown, Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District and Todd Hammen, Iowa Energy Alternatives.

Tesdell Century Farm has been in the family since 1884. The Hellands raise row crops on 60 acres. Lee raises five acres of sheep hay, and the rest of the farm consists of buffers along Alleman Creek (Four Mile Creek watershed) and a waterway.

Directions from the north on I-35: Take exit 102 and turn right (west) onto IA Hwy 210. After 1.5 miles, turn left (south) onto U.S. 69. After two miles, turn right (west) onto NE 158th Avenue; drive 1.1 miles and look for the stucco house with white buildings. From the south on I-35: Take exit 96 and turn left (west) onto NE 126th Avenue. Drive 1.5 miles to U.S. 69 / Ankeny Boulevard; turn right (north). Drive four miles north and turn left (west) onto NE 158th Avenue. Drive 1.1 miles and look for the stucco house with white buildings.