Following introductions by SWCD Chairman Jason Titcomb the group headed out to Duane and Marcia Henke's farm in Cedar Township, Section 7 to learn more about the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). With this program producers are rewarded for conservation improvements they make to their farming operation and enhancements they've already been doing.
The next stop was at Ray Dorr's fen site in Spring 30. Kathy Koskovich from the DNR was on hand to talk about the site, which has a one-acre size fen/seep complex. Some rare plant species have been observed at the site over the years including Yellow Monkey Flower and Water Parsnip. At the time of the tour the area was flooded so it was not possible to look at any of the rare plant species, but the area was quite beautiful.
From there the group headed to Brian Fulton's place in Cherokee Township Section 1 where District Forester Joe Schwartz talked about the brush management and prescribed burns that Brian has been doing on his property. Fulton was the recipient of the 2011 Iowa Tree Farmer of the Year Award.
In Afton 20 the group viewed a Seasonal High Tunnel at Scott and Debra Koch's farm. High Tunnels modify the climate to create more favorable growing conditions for vegetables and other specialty crops. They are designed to extend the cropping season. Financial assistance is available to producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
The last stop was at Gary and Alura Otto's organic bean field in Pilot Township, Section 12. The Otto's are transitioning to organic production through EQIP's Organic Initiative. Otto conventionally farmed corn and soybeans for 35 years before beginning the organic certification transition process in 2008.
The group enjoyed a delicious supper at Danny's following the tour.
The commissioners and staff would like to thank all of the landowners for making our conservation tour a success. The commissioners and staff also thanks the presenters and to everyone who came to the tour.