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.”