ANKENY — The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) is launching “Iowa’s Front Forty,” celebrating conservation champions in the state.
It recognizes farmers and others who utilize and promote innovative conservation methods. Iowa’s Front Forty will also seek to inspire further action in improving water and soil quality while illustrating how more public funding can dramatically increase the pace and scope of conservation activities in Iowa.
“We’re all about improving the productivity, profitability and natural resource management for soil and water in Iowa,” said Roger Wolf, ISA Director of the Research Center for Farming Innovation (RCFI). “The Front Forty captures the voices of local champions to advocate what’s been going on across Iowa for soil and water conservation for the purpose of replicating that success in other parts of the state.”
ISA is widely respected for implementing programs and services enabling soybean farmers to boost productivity in concert with effective conservation practices. With the support of the Walton Family Foundation, Iowa’s Front Forty continues to celebrate conservation champions at the forefront of sustainable soil and water management practices.
For example, sharing stories of farmers who are successfully practicing and promoting soil and water quality has opened communication and dialogue among all Iowans regarding conservation. Each farmer can influence other farmers and citizens to do the same.
“We’ve no-tilled since 1991, and in 2012, we started experimenting with cover crops and working with members of the RCFI team,” said Wayne Fredericks of Osage, a farmer and member of the inaugural Iowa’s Front Forty class. “The resources and expertise provided by ISA has helped understand what species to plant, when to produce and terminate, and what affects yield.”
Another Front Forty farmer, Michael Vittetoe of Washington, said the primary conservation practice implemented in his operation is cover crops. The cereal rye is seeded on almost every acre of row crops the family farm grows.
“The most significant benefits we’re seeing are erosion control and water infiltration, and we’ve been able to cut our herbicide program almost in half,” Vittetoe said.
Launching the Front Forty program to connect farmers, landowners and conservationists around Iowa will elevate these success stories, empower grassroots influencers to continue advocating and educate policymakers about the benefits of long-term conservation.
“ISA is going to continue to invest in these kinds of programs, and we believe the voices and actions of local people are what make all of this work,” Wolf added.
To learn more about Iowa’s Front Forty and get to know the 2021 champions, visit iowafrontforty.com.