Soil health and cover crop field day planned for August 9 near Spirit Lake

July 20, 2017

Ames, Iowa— Iowa Learning Farms, in partnership with Clean Water Alliance and Dickinson County Soil and Water Conservation District, will host a soil health and cover crop field day near Spirit Lake on Wednesday, August 9. The 5:00-7:00 p.m. event hosted by John and Kristy Boettcher is free and open to the public. It will begin with a complimentary dinner.

Farmer host and speaker, John Boettcher, began strip-tilling corn and no-tilling soybeans eighteen years ago to reduce time constraints in the spring when establishing seed crops and has continued to use the practices for soil conservation benefits. In 2013, Boettcher added cover crops to his operation as a way to improve soil health and reduce soil erosion. Using a variety of species, his goal is to mimic the benefits of alfalfa in the rotation ahead of corn while also providing a feed source for his livestock through grazing.

Also speaking at the field day is Doug Peterson, Natural Resource Conservation Service soil scientist, will discuss how managing for soil health can increase your farm’s potential. Iowa Learning Farms researchers Ann Staudt and Liz Juchems will share results from cover crop projects examining species selection, seeding techniques, water quality and soil health indicators like earthworms.

The field day will be held at the Boettcher farm: 2208 130th Street, Spirit Lake. From Spirit Lake at Hwys 71 and 9, head west on IA-9 for three miles. Turn right on IA-86N for two miles. Turn right to head east on 130th Street and keep right to stay on 130th Street for about 1.7 miles.    Tent will be located on the south side of the road.

The workshop is free and open to the public, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate space and food. Contact Liz Juchems at 515-294-5429 or email

For more information about Iowa Learning Farms, visit the website:

Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation, 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 are 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), Conserva­tion Districts of Iowa, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Water Center and Practical Farmers of Iowa.