The Smeltzer Farm, located southeast of Fort Dodge, is a multi-faceted farm containing almost every conservation structure and practice. From streambank stabilization to terraces, grassed waterways, a bioreactor, and farming practice demonstrations including no-till, strip-till and cover crops, the Smeltzer farm serves as a learning tool for farmers. Visitors can come out to see how things are implemented, how the crops are growing and can get pointers from the members of the Smeltzer advisory board. The county naturalist, NRCS conservationist and ISU Extension specialists all work together to make this farm successful.
Gary Nelson farmed for Mrs. Smeltzer for 15 years prior to her death. He says that he “got her feel for conservation. She was a leader for her time, and the board that oversees the farm has great insight.” Gary is also a real estate appraiser and sees the value of good topsoil as he travels the state. “I’ve seen farms with really rich black soil and I’ve appraised farms where there is no top soil and not tillable. It makes me realize how lucky we are with our rich, black soils and we need to keep them there.”
Dave Nelson (center facing camera) talks with field day attendees about strip-tillage at an ILF field day held at the Smeltzer Farm in July 2011.
In 2012, the Nelson Family Farms were one of the families to receive the first annual Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award, given by Gov. Branstad at the Iowa State Fair. The Nelsons use several conservation practices on their family farm as well as the Smeltzer farm.