Arliss Nielsen | Building a Culture of Conservation

Arliss Nielsen

Arliss Nielsen began farming right out of high school near Woolstock, Iowa, with his dad in Wright County. At that time, the farm was only a few hundred acres. Through the years, the family has purchased and rented additional acres and now Arliss and his son, Todd, manage a 1,200 acre corn and soybean operation.

Arliss and Todd converted the farm to no-till 11 years ago and started experimenting with cover crops two years after the no-till transition. Since 2013, their whole farm has been planted with a rye cover crop every year. Todd sees the positive impact that cover crops are having on the land.

“Water infiltration is a lot better with cover crops. We’re seeing that top four inches of soil dry out quicker so we can plant. In our neighborhood, that’s a big deal,” Todd commented. “We have less erosion and we’re seeing a lot less nitrogen loss in our water samples where we had cover crops versus where we didn’t.”

The farm now boasts a long list of conservation practices, including no-till and cover crops on all 1,200 acres, two wetlands, a bioreactor, drainage water management, filter strips, field borders and a massive 80-acre riparian buffer along the White Fox River.

“It’s pushing five years with a bioreactor and it’s working out fine. We don’t notice a huge difference on our end, but they’re saying that the parts per million going in and out of it are quite drastic, so it’s doing its job.”

Read Arliss and Todd Nielsen's story from the Iowa NRCS Conservation Showcase.