Readers Respond

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Letters to the Pilot


To the editor:

USDA's Prospective Planting report released in late March shows Iowa farmers intend to plant 1.3 million more acres of corn than in 2006. By upping their corn acres, Iowa farmers hope to take advantage of corn prices, which have risen 50 percent in the past year. From a business standpoint, planting more corn acres makes sense for many producers. Farmers are simply trying to supply a product the market wants and needs.

But from an environmental standpoint, the corn acres forecast is concerning to many conservation-minded people.

The three of us represent Conservation Districts of Iowa, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship-Division of Soil Conservation and the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. We want farmers to succeed. We also want producers to consider making planting decisions that will not lead to loss of farm program eligibility or to more soil erosion which pollutes our lakes, streams and rivers. Research conducted by Iowa State and other universities shows that planting corn-on-corn does not, in most cases, require tilling the ground. Reduced yield is a concern when comparing no-till to tilling corn-on-corn, but, when figuring inputs, no-till corn-on-corn usually makes the producer more money while reducing soil erosion.

And in some cases, producers experience increased yields in their operations when planting no-till corn-on-corn and reduced input costs.

We can help producers consider planting and tillage options. Our technicians can advise producers how to keep in compliance with their conservation plan. Producers can visit their local USDA Service Centers. The experts there are working to help farmers succeed while protecting our state's air and water quality and wildlife habitat.

- Ken Tow, Deb Ryun and Rick Van Klaveren