In the Loess Hills, topsoil is valuable. It’s important to be open to doing things differently; finding a better way to preserve this land for future generations.

Curt Mether

Monona and Harrison Counties

Farming Operation

  • 3rd-generation family farm in Monona and Harrison counties in western Iowa
  • Farms corn and soybeans on the steep to rolling Loess Hills
  • Farms a variety of soil types, even within individual fields
  • President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association

 

 

 

4R Plus Practices Used

  • 100% no-till and plants cover crops on as many acres as possible
  • Builds his own terraces and tiles a channel of terraces to allow the water to filter through the soil
  • Utilizes grassed waterways; borders along fields and creeks
  • Maximizes the efficiency of N, P and K; uses stabilizer with anhydrous
  • Tests tile lines for nitrates

Results Seen

  • Combination of no-till and cover crops has dramatically reduced erosion
  • This system has also improved water-holding capacity and water infiltration, which better supports equipment
  • No-till minimizes yield variability and makes it possible to grow high-yielding crops on steep ground
  • Terraces are overbuilt to absorb and slow down water
  • Water coming out of tile lines has minimal nitrates

Plans for the Future

  • Working on ways to reduce input costs
  • Continue to attend field days to learn what other farmers are doing to build soils impacted by erosion
  • Working on ways to further reduce yield variability

 

 

 

Click here to ask Curt a question about his farming operation.

Summer 2019: 4R Plus Practices Have Cumulative Effect

On the steep hills of Harrison and Monona counties, Curt Mether has a cropping system that has stood the test of time. He has been no-tilling for more than 20 years and started planting cover crops on as many acres as possible six years ago. This year, the system allowed for timely planting.

“What I realized this spring is that everything that has been done to the ground – the tillage practices and conservation practices like cover crops – made a big difference,” he said. “I think farmers underestimate the cumulative impact of what they do over the course of time. No-till soils have better structure and improved infiltration and water-holding capacity. The soil supported the equipment and that made a world of difference this year.”

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Spring 2019: Using Conservation Practices to Manage a Tough Spring

Harrison and Monona County farmer Curt Mether has had a tough spring. A quick snowmelt and excessive rains have damaged some of his terraces, but he knows it could be much worse. In fact, he’s seen the extensive damage south and east of where he farms.

“Our trouble is the water goes down the hills too quickly,” he said. “I have miles of terraces and have been growing crops on these hills with a no-till system for more than 20 years. I started growing cover crops six years ago because I want to rebuild organic matter lost to erosion.”

Mether overbuilds his terraces for years like this and will be doing the repair work himself. “Our terraces mostly held up and did their job of slowing the water down early this spring,” he said. “But there are a few places where the water came down too quickly.”

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