14th Annual Iowa Organic Conference coming to Iowa City


The 14th Annual Iowa Organic Conference will be held Nov. 16 and 17 on the University of Iowa campus. (Photo courtesy UI Office of Sustainability)
The 14th Annual Iowa Organic Conference will be held Nov. 16 and 17 on the University of Iowa campus. (Photo courtesy UI Office of Sustainability)

Nick Fetty | November 14, 2014

The 14th Annual Iowa Organic Conference will take place November 16 and 17 at the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus.

The conference’s keynote speaker is Mary Berry who is the daughter of Wendell Berry, an American cultural critic, environmental activist, farmer, novelist, and poet. Ms. Berry is the executive director of the Berry Center, an agriculture-focused foundation based in New Castle, Kentucky.

The event will begin with a reception featuring locally and organically grown food and drink beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday, November 16. Following the reception will be a screening of the movie Fresh which looks at local and organic food markets in the U.S. Sunday night will conclude with a concert by The Slow Draws Band.

The conference will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, November 17 with breakfast. At 8:30 a.m. Ms. Berry will give her presentation, “Rekindling the Light Within: The Art and Science of Organic Farming.” The rest of the day will consist of “breakout sessions” which will include presentations from United States Department of Agriculture representatives, Iowa State Senator Rob Hogg, and others. Lunch will feature a gourmet meal by award-winning UI Executive Chef Barry Greenberg consisting of locally and organically grown produce, meat, and dairy products.

Officials from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the ISU Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and the UI Office of Sustainability worked together to organize this year’s event.

Cost of attendance is $115 ($35 for students) for anyone who has not already preregistered. For more information visit the UI Office of Sustainability website or contact Kathleen Delate at kdelate@iastate.edu.

On the Radio: The USDA’s attention to new seeds


Photo by United Soybean Board; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers the USDA’s exploration into stronger, herbicide-resistant seeds. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

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On the Radio: Iowa Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard 2013


Photo by eutrophication&hypoxia; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers the newly updated Iowa Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

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2013 Nutrient Management Standard released in Iowa


Photo by Derek Preston; Flickr

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently released the new Iowa Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard – the guiding document for implementing nutrient management plans for Iowa farmers.

To learn more, follow the link above, or head over to the National Hog Farmer website.

USDA Conservation Grant to Improve Iowa’s Soil Health


Photo by Mr. T in DC; Flickr

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided grants to Iowa several groups with a target of improving the health of the state’s soil.

“Even though many of the projects focus on soil health, they do it in very different ways, from researching innovative ways to create healthier soil to conservation lease agreements to finding cover crop seed solutions,” said Jay Mar, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist. Continue reading

Iowa CRP Adds 47,300 Acres


Photo by US Fish and Wildlife Services – Midwest Region; Flickr

With this new addition, Iowa’s Conservation Reserve Program enrollment is now up to 1.4 million acres.

The CRP is a land conservation program administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). In exchange for a yearly rental payment, farmers enrolled in the program agree to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.

Contracts for land enrolled in CRP are 10-15 years in length. The long-term goal of the program is to re-establish valuable land cover to help improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and reduce loss of wildlife habitat.

To learn more about the recent addition, follow this link.

USDA announces $6 million wetlands project in Iowa


The Des Moines River. Photo by jimmywayne, Flickr.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday plans to spend $6 million on improvements to the Raccoon and Des Moines river watersheds.

The project, called the North Raccoon River Wetland Initiative, aims to improve wildlife habitat and water quality in the area while also taking measures to prevent flooding.

In total, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will spend $32 million to restore wetlands in seven states across the Mississippi River Basin.

For more information, read the full article at the Des Moines Register.