As Iowans work to meet the goals set out in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, the actions of individual landowners can make a big difference. One Iowa County farm family that has gone above and beyond for Iowa’s environment has recently been recognized for their efforts. Maas Farms near South Amana, operated by Stewart and Jared Maas, received the 2018 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award, presented at the Iowa State Fair. The award recognizes exemplary voluntary action to protect Iowa’s natural resources.
Father and son Stewart and Jared Maas farm about 1,800 acres 25 miles west of Iowa City. “We try to do everything the right way,” Jared explains.
Stewart and Jared Maas have worked extensively with the Iowa Flood Center and the Iowa Watershed Approach. Their home farm is the site of one of the IFC hydrologic stations, and data collected by the IFC hydro station can help. As Stewart and Jared prepare for fieldwork, they can check the online sensor data to learn when the soil is ready to plant, the best time for field applications, and how to plan for changing weather conditions.
“It helps a lot,” Stewart says. One example is the application of fertilizer in the fall. Farmers are encouraged to wait until soil temperatures are 50 degrees F or colder to limit nitrogen loss. Stewart and Jared now have facts on which to base their decisions — a real advantage for big operations like theirs. For Stewart and Jared, the data provide peace of mind that they’re doing things “the right way.”
Stewart has been working with University of Iowa researchers for years. “The university has been really good to us here,” Stewart says. “I’ve got a lot of respect for the hydrology department.”
“Farming doesn’t pay very well,” says Stewart. But, he adds, “It makes farming fun, getting involved in some of these things.”