Kurt Bechert Discusses the Importance of Conservation in Their Farming Operation - Wapello and Keokuk Counties
Tell us about your operation
“I farm with my brother Chris in southeast Iowa near Agency and Sigourney.” Located in Wapello and Keokuk Counties. The farm in Wapello County is within the Cedar Creek Partnership WQI Watershed Project. “Our operation includes growing corn and soybeans on approximately 760 acres while also raising hogs, weanlings to finish in hoop buildings.”
What water quality practices have you used on your farm?
“We have built a lot of terraces over the years on the farm.” They no-till ahead of soybeans and only one tillage pass (minimum tillage) before planting corn in the spring. “We don’t work the ground in the fall at all.” Filter strips have been installed along the main creeks that flow through the farms. Everyone knows cover crops have become a very hot topic throughout Iowa and the Bechert brothers have been incorporating this practice into their operation the past few years. “Cereal rye has worked the best for us before soybeans and we have used some wheat.” Through the Cedar Creek Partnership WQI Watershed Project they have seeded 225 acres of cover crops. Increasing their acres each year and are planning to plant a cover crop on all of the corn ground this year.
Why did you voluntarily adopt these practices?
“Erosion control to start with, but as we learn more about soil health we are now trying to build organic material and increase the water holding capacity of our soil.”
What, if any, assistance did you receive to incorporate these practices (financial as well as technical)?
“I have received cost share funding through the Cedar Creek Partnership Watershed Project for cover crops. Terraces projects through Buckeye Creek Watershed Project, State, and Federal cost share programs. CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) filter strips and I have been involved in CSP (Conservation Stewardship Program). For technical assistance we have worked with the staff at the Wapello County NRCS/SWCD office.”
What is your philosophy as it relates to farming and the environment?
“Continue doing conservation practices on the farm to slow water down, increase the water holding capacity, build organic matter, and keep nitrates out of the water.”