AgricultureNews

Iowa Landowners Sought for New Farmland Education Program

Participants will learn about conservation opportunities on Iowa farmland and network with other landowners

A unique group of specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is organizing a new program to help landowners incorporate soil health principles into their farmland. The program brings together specialists in agronomy, conservation, finance and law to assist landowners in making beneficial decisions for their land.

The Landowner Education Program is intended for Iowa landowners who want to learn about soil health practices, understand relevant financial and legal considerations, and build a supportive network of peers and experts.

Landowners can apply through April 19 to be part of the first cohort. Participants will be organized into small groups according to their awareness, motivations and challenges to conservation adoption.

Each cohort will have the opportunity to attend six, in-person educational events taught by ISU Extension and Outreach specialists, with the goal of showing how conservation practices can be made viable on the Iowa landscape.

“The program is grounded in the concept that people make decisions based on many complex motivators and that their time is valuable,” said Catherine DeLong, water quality program manager with ISU Extension and Outreach. “In other words, not everyone is the same and in order to use their time effectively, we need to adapt how we talk about conservation based on who we’re speaking to.”

In Iowa, 58% of farmland is leased and landowners play a key role in conservation practice adoption. According to the 2018 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, 42% of respondents agree or strongly agree that they are less likely to use cover crops on rented land.

The program will help explain how landowners can work with tenants to provide mutually beneficial opportunities to implement conservation practices.

The first year of the program will target landowners whose land is primarily in row crops in central and north central Iowa, especially within the Des Moines River Watershed. All knowledge levels are welcome. Space is limited so applicants must apply before April 19.

“The program takes into account that there are many steps between interest and conservation practice implementation,” said Julia Baker, natural resources program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “This can include discussing with family members or other land decision-makers, speaking with a lawyer to adapt or create a written lease, and discussing practices with a tenant including cost-share of any expenses, equipment needs, etc.”

“We know landowners care about their land and value stewardship, but may need help navigating the financial, legal and relational aspects of transitioning to conservation land management,” Baker continued.

More information is available online, including a short assessment to see if the program is a good fit for the landowner at naturalresources.extension.iastate.edu/programs/landowner-education.

For more information, contact Catherine DeLong at [email protected] or Julia Baker at [email protected]

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