Friday, November 27, 2015
Friday, October 2, 2015
The Iowa Corn Growers Association is proud to serve our more than 8,000 farmer members across the state. These members are the backbone of our organization and we like to introduce you to those that continue to make this organization great. This month, meet Andy and Abbie Johnson, Iowa Corn members from Northern Iowa who seized an opportunity to educate young professionals by helping to found the North Iowa Professionals in Agriculture group.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Brandon Maier was born, raised and educated in Iowa. He graduated from Iowa State University in 2013 with a degree in Agricultural Studies.
His passion for agriculture began at a young age growing up on a 1,200 acre family farm outside of Eagle Grove, Iowa. During his junior year at Iowa State, Brandon began his own trenching and excavating business as a way of entering into the family farming operation. Overtime his business has grown tremendously; making him a dirt mover by day, farmer by night.
Outside of work, Brandon is a die-hard cyclone fan, sports enthusiast and has a passion for aviation.
Monday, August 24, 2015
“Do organic livestock farmers use antibiotics if their animals are sick?”
“Do grain-fed cattle get sick more often than grass fed?”
“Where can I find trustworthy information on GMOs?”
“Do you buy organic apples?”
These are just a few of the questions that visitors to the Downtown Des Moines Farmer’s Market asked CommonGround volunteers Jan Stillman, Nicole Yoder and Julie Van Manen in July.
CommonGround is a grassroots organization funded by the corn and soybean checkoffs. More than 160 farm women across the country, representing all types of agriculture, volunteer to answer questions and provide information about food and farming.
CommonGround volunteers use their experience on the farm, as well as credible 3rd party data, to answer questions like the ones asked by farmer’s market shoppers. Volunteers also answer questions and share info online, through the CommonGround website and their own personal blogs.
Many of the shoppers who stopped at the CommonGround booth on the corner of 2nd and Court also signed up for the monthly email newsletter. The newsletter covers hot topics in food and farming from a farm woman’s perspective, and includes recipes from the farm-women volunteers.
Visit the CommonGround website to learn more about the program and click “Stay Connected” to sign up for your Fearless Food updates.
CommonGround Iowa will be back at the Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market on Saturday, August 29!
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
|Collegiate Advisory Team touring Delmarva Farms|
The second farm tour of the day was at Clovelly Farms and Vineyard. The Midwesterners felt right at home when they were given a tour of the farm riding on a hay rack. Clovelly Farms is a diversified farm that grows several hundred acres of trees, row crops and grapes which are harvested and sent off location to be made into wine.
|CAT Members attend the National Corn Congress|
Monday, August 10, 2015
Most, if not all, people have an inspirational person that they look up to for guidance, knowledge, or both. I am no exception. My inspiration was my grandpa, though many of you corn growers knew him as Gary Edwards.
My Grandpa Gary was one of a kind and such an amazing grandpa for the short 18 years I knew him. I loved riding in the combine with him every day during harvest when I would get home from school. In fact, as soon as the corn crop started turning brown I would ask how much longer until harvest started because I was so excited to ride in the combine which conveniently had a buddy seat. Occasionally, I would help plant in the spring which was really just putting all the empty bags on the spike but as a young girl, that was all I could do so it was still appreciated nonetheless. And luckily the tractor we used for planting had a buddy seat as well! About six years ago, he actually taught me how to drive the tractors. It is not that big of a deal, but to a thirteen year old girl, it was the biggest deal!
Over the years, I started paying attention to other farm aspects as well. I remember a year when Sudden Death Syndrome was an issue and I learned all about it. After a bad storm, I would always go inspect the crops with him and learn what problems there would be from the wind, hail, flooding, etc. and how to cope with them, such as goosenecked corn. I learned about various insects such as the Japanese beetle munching on the silks, which was a big problem just three or four years ago. Along with that, I learned what the silks’ actual purpose was. Learning the ropes of the farm was something I absolutely loved and my grandpa was always patient enough to teach me things here and there and answer any ridiculous questions I had. It was the accumulation of these educational lessons that made me realize I want to be a farmer when I grow up.
Just as my grandpa planted his corn and soybeans every spring, he planted a passion within me that I would have never imagined. Water quality and other environmental issues were the big thing always going on in my grandpa’s mind, though I never knew it until just a few years ago. I discovered that he was on an action team regarding the Dead Zone down in the Gulf, on several committees with ICGA and NCGA regarding water quality, and I’m sure there was more involvement that I am still unaware of. I took several college courses while still in high school. One of those many courses was called Environmental Science which I took my junior year. That class along with the ecology unit of biology really sparked an interest and lit a light bulb in my mind. I had found my passion which coincidentally was my grandpa’s as well. That’s the part I find astonishing. My grandpa never pressured me to do anything, never told me things about Iowa Corn or the things he was doing regarding water quality. He let me find my passion all on my own and then fed that passion with more of his knowledge once I came to the realization. Even then, I had no idea that it was such a big deal to him; that it was his passion as well. All those years, I had no idea. But when everything clicked together and I realized it, I could not help but pick his brain about various issues whenever I got the chance. I always knew he was involved with Iowa Corn but I never really knew what that meant. I distinctly remember seeing the ICGA and NCGA stickers that were on the door windows at my grandparents’ house and how busy my grandpa was during the winter and summer on trips across the nation for various meetings. Looking back and forward, I hope that I get to travel all over the nation as well, because it means I get to meet and converse with people with the same passions in order to make a difference. Not only did my grandpa build my love for agriculture and environmental issues but he introduced me to Iowa Corn.
I went to Washington D.C. twice with my grandparents while my grandpa had meetings. My grandpa always got my parents and I tickets to the Iowa Corn Indy race as well. Then, as my interest grew I decided that I would try out a meeting so I went to the annual policy meeting in 2013 even though it was on my birthday. More and more involvement has only followed. I went to the Commodity Classic in 2014 but regrettably had to miss the roundtables and annual meeting that summer. I went to the Day on the Hill in March of this year and a roundtable meeting just last week, my first Iowa Corn activities without my grandpa to show me the ropes. Luckily, I have met many of the members that my grandpa worked with so they all came to know me and everyone is always so welcoming and helpful. My involvement will only increase and I look forward to the many opportunities Iowa Corn will offer me in the coming years, beginning with the annual meeting in just a few weeks. I had no idea that I would have become so involved but I am very glad my grandpa let me tag along for the various things to spark that interest.
I will never forget the last time I rode in the combine with him just last fall because I was telling him about my future career plans. I want to work for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and work with farmers to implement and improve soil conservation and water quality management practices. His eyes lit up and I could tell that he was very proud of the path I’ve chosen for my life to follow. I had no idea that it would be the last time I would ever ride in the combine with him. I had no idea that it would be the last time I would ever have an educational lesson and conversation with him. My grandpa passed away on March 7th, 2015 after a tough battle with cancer. Life is too short but I will always remember the things he taught me. Because of my Grandpa Gary, I have learned so much and been exposed to an amazing organization filled with amazing people. Because of him, I am going to continue the family farm with my dad, Brad Edwards. I could not imagine doing anything else.
Monday, August 3, 2015
On Saturday, July 11, a group of researchers at Iowa State University labs ran by Pat Schnable, agronomy, and Lie Tang, agricultural engineering, toured the farm of Larry and Bonnie Buss in Logan, Iowa. The group discussed a wide range of topics, with the broad goal of increasing awareness of agriculture’s needs, and strengthening relationships between the University and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, who organized the event. The group learned about farming practices, commodity markets, agricultural equipment, and ways in which these aspects of agriculture have changed through the years.
Farm size, yield per acre, and ability to farm sloping fields have all increased in recent decades. Farmers are able to accurately plant rows with partly-automated location-optimized spacing, gather large quantities of relevant data, and numerous other feats which were previously impossible.
Part of the progress can be attributed to the technology seen on this tour. Modern agriculture includes GPS-guided planters, behemoth combines, massive silos, highly-efficient harvesters, and numerous other technological marvels. Seeing the puzzle completely assembled and running smoothly was a welcomed sight and an enriching experience to the visitors, who regularly come together, from diverse intellectual backgrounds, to collaborate on projects intended to improve various aspects of agriculture.
With so many recently advances in agriculture, Larry Buss informed the group of several challenges he still sees emerging. Issues such as water quality, affected by pesticide and herbicide use, need to be addressed. Additionally, many types of weeds are growing resistant to herbicides. Solutions to both include more environmentally-friendly pesticides, mechanical weeders, or improved strains of crops which require fewer chemicals and fertilizers. Most researchers present were working toward at least one of these solutions. As I just learned from iowacornstalk.com, “From 1980 to 2010, U.S. farmers increased corn production by 87.5% while using 4% less fertilizer inputs. (source).” I am proud of those who made this happen, and am sure that together we can go further.
As you can see in the pictures below, the group of roughly 30 people, spanning all ages, came well prepared for the pleasant Iowa morning, and a good time was had by all.
I send thanks to the Iowa Corn Growers Association for helping with this event and the Buss’s for sharing their farm. As usual, Go Cyclones!
-Guest post by Dylan Shah from Iowa State University