When a group of approximately 40 farmers, soil health proponents, and water quality advocates come together over a couple of glasses of quality craft beer, one can expect some lively conversations.
Such was the case on April 11th, when an event appropriately called “Soil, Water, and Pints” was organized by League staff and hosted by PIVO Brewery in Calmar, Iowa. Additional sponsorship and promotion was provided by Ross Evelsizer, watershed planner for Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development.
Loran Steinlage of FloLo Farms in West Union, Iowa, was the featured speaker. Loran has been making quite a name for himself as he travels around the country speaking on the merits of conservation farming and multi-cropping practices, and how they can lead to healthier soil, more water infiltration, improved water quality, and a better bottom line for the farmer.
After Loran’s presentation detailing what he’s been doing on his 750-acre farm, the full-house audience had plenty of questions on a range of topics, including cover crops, equipment usage, water quality, costs, and companion crops to traditional corn and soybeans, such as small grains for beer production.
This last topic is an idea that’s gaining momentum in Iowa as the craft brewery industry continues to grow, and as farmers increasingly look for additional marketing and income opportunities. As Loran pointed out, companion crops can provide much-needed root structure, which has been shown to help significantly with problems related to soil erosion and water quality.
The overwhelming majority of Iowa's land area is covered in monocultures of corn and soybeans, which contribute to degradation of surface and ground waters from agriculture runoff. The League plans to continue hosting similar outreach events to build awareness among farmers and the general public of the benefits of conservation practices.