Cover crops and saturated buffer field day to be held in Hillsboro on November 28th

November 6, 2018

AMES, Iowa—Iowa Learning Farms, along with the Lower Skunk Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative and Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District, will host a cover crops and saturated buffer field day on Wednesday, November 28th from 12:00-2:00 p.m. at the Hillsboro Community Center. The event is free, open to the whole family and includes a complimentary meal.

Van Buren and Henry County farmer Clark Whitaker, alongside his brothers and son, raises row crops, cattle and hogs on his family’s Heritage Farm. Together they have implemented a variety of conservation practices to help improve water quality and soil health. Recent water quality practices include a saturated buffer and wetland to help reduce nitrate loss from their property. Clark has no-tilled his corn and soybeans for the past 35 years and in 2014 began using cereal rye, oats and radish cover crops to increase soil health, reduce the soil from erosion and protect the farms productivity for the future.

“My family has always thought of the farm as an asset to be used.  As an asset it needs to be cared for and maintained.  Part of that care is trying to keep the soil on the farm instead of road ditches and waterways.  We have been working to raise organic matter and are realizing the benefits of organic matter.  Part of the reason for looking at cover crops on our farm is to see the benefits and how incorporation into our operation will improve the soil and our operation in the future,” stated Whitaker.

The agenda will continue with Ann Staudt, Iowa Learning Farms manager and content specialist, discussing edge of field practices like saturated buffers, bioreactors and denitrifying wetlands. Liz Juchems, Iowa Learning Farms conservation outreach specialist, will share results from cover crop projects examining species selection, water quality implications, and soil health indicators such as earthworms. Miranda Haes, Lower Skunk Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative coordinator, will provide project updates and discuss opportunities to get involved. Following the program Clark will provide a tour of his nearby cover crops, weather permitting.

The field day will be held at the Hillsboro Community Center, 105 E. Commercial Street. The event is free and open to the whole family, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate space and food. Please RSVP to Liz Juchems at 515-294-5429 or

For reasonable accommodations please contact Miranda Haes at 319-385-2824 Ext. 3 or   

For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of Iowa Learning Farms include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources (USEPA section 319).

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.


Liz Juchems

Conservation Outreach Specialist


Miranda Haes

Lower Skunk River Water Quality & Soil Initiative Coordinator

319-385-2824 Ext. 3