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Grower: Roger Zylstra
Location: Lynnville, Iowa (50 miles east of Des Moines)
700 acres corn and soybeans, as well as a contract finishing hog operation of 5400
Brief history of farm: The Zylstra farm is a third generation family farm. Roger’s parents began farming in 1948, and he purchased it from them in 1982. Now, Roger’s son, Wes, farms it and Roger works alongside him.
Cover Crops: The Zylstras have only recently added cover crops to their farming practice. The first year, they did a small field and put in cereal rye. It went very well, so the second year they did 300 acres of cereal rye. Roger says a cool, damp spring presented challenges, but the learning curve continues.
“We are dedicated to seeing this through,” Roger says. “I do think it will pay dividends in the long term.”
Tillage Practices: For 30 years, the Zylstras have practiced no-till on most all of their ground. Roger calls it the only practical way to farm their highly erodible land.
Nutrient Management: The hog finishing operation provides a steady supply of nutrients in the form of hog manure. The Zylstra farm uses the manure and follows a manure management plan.
Why join the Soil Health Partnership? “I’m convinced we can improve the soil by doing cover crops, no-till and good nutrient management,” Zylstra said. “I’m looking forward to the research results and knowledge we will gain by participating with the partnership.”