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Field day at Luze farm

September 4, 2016
Reinbeck Courier

DYSART, Iowa - Prairie plants are not only an iconic feature of Iowa's historic landscape and ecology, they are proving to be powerful allies of farmers looking for ways to improve the quality of water leaving their farms.

Research has shown that strategically adding prairie to farmland can significantly reduce nutrient loss and erosion, while building soil and adding critical habitat for pollinators, birds and other wildlife.

Join Practical Farmers of Iowa and the Tallgrass Prairie Center at University of Northern Iowa to learn more about practical ways to use prairie on farms at a field day on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Luze Farm, near Dysart (5718 12th Ave., about 3 miles northeast of town). The event "Establishing and Evaluating Prairie Strips on Farms" is free to attend and will include lunch following the field day. Please RSVP for the meal to Lauren Zastrow, (515) 232-5661 or, by Friday, Sept. 9.

Randy Luze operates Luze Farm with his father, Larry. In 2015 and 2016, Randy established prairie strips on his farm with help from the Tallgrass Prairie Center's Prairie on Farms program. Attendees will learn about the process for adding prairie strips; evaluating prairie seed mixes; site preparation and planting; how to evaluate prairie plantings, including cues indicating successful establishment; first- and second-year maintenance needs; weed control; and best practices for maintaining prairie strips. Guests will also see comparisons of mowed and un-mowed plots, and three different prairie seed mixes.

In addition to Randy, speakers will include Laura Jackson, director of the Tallgrass Prairie Center; Ashley Kittle, program manager for the center's Prairie on Farms program; and Justin Meissen, research and restoration program manager for the center.

"Attendees will get to hear from Randy about his experiences with in-field prairie strips, learn technical aspects of planting successful prairies and see diverse prairie plantings on a production field," Ashley says. "Attendees will also be able to ask questions and increase their knowledge of how prairie can be an important conservation tool for water quality, wildlife habitat and pollinator recovery efforts."

Ashley adds that the event is also a perfect opportunity for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and technical service provider staff to learn more about how prairie strips can be strategically used on farms to assist pollinator recovery and water quality improvement efforts.

Luze Farm Corp is a fourth-generation family farm. Randy and his father raise seed corn and soybeans under contract for Pioneer Hi-Bred. Randy is an accredited farm manager with Peoples Company and works with his daughter, Mollie, also a farm manager, to incorporate conservation projects for their absentee landowner clients.

Directions: Heading east on IA Hwy 8, turn left (north) onto 12th Avenue and go about 1 mile; the farm is on the right.

Practical Farmers of Iowa's 2016 field day season features 25 events around Iowa. All field days occur rain or shine, and feature farmer-led discussions and farm or field tours. Details are in Practical Farmers' "2016 Field Day Guide," available at, or for free in print.



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