Person: Will Osterholz

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Well, it certainly has taken me a just little longer than planned (self-directed sarcasm intended!) to write this summary of the Mustard Seed Community Farm field day (held July 25) — but it was such an excellent event, that the knowledge deserves to be shared! The title of the event, “Establishing On-Farm Pollinator Habitat,” is […]

December 2, 2015 


In a Nutshell
• Cultivation of cereal rye for cover crop
seed offers the possibility of frost-seeding
a legume into the standing rye crop
in early spring, where the legume can
produce biomass and fix N following
rye harvest.
• Farmer-cooperators Tim Sieren and
Dick Sloan grew corn in rotation following
cereal rye frost-seeded with
red clover and compared this to corn
grown using synthetic N fertilizer applications.
• Tim and Dick invited Iowa State University
graduate student Will Osterholz
on to their farms to quantify N uptake
by corn as well as two measures of N
release from soil organic matter: net N
mineralization and gross ammonification.
Key findings
• Red clover did not improve corn
growth, N content or grain yield compared
to synthetic N fertilizer.
• Soil N mineralization rates in August
tended to be higher with red clover
compared to synthetic N fertilizer, but
differences were not statistically different.
• Fertilization with supplemental N at
planting could provide corn with early
season N before clover decomposition
can provide sufficient N to the corn
crop in late summer.

November 30, 2015 


Pollinators are a critical component of
agricultural production, and the populations
of bees are declining. Some
farms are implementing bee-friendly
pollinator habitat, and are curious
what effect their efforts have on local
• Pollinators were collected in bee bowls
from different habitats on two farms.
• Nearly 1,300 pollinators were collected.
• The most common species at each
farm were from family Halictidae
(Lasioglossum Dialictus and Agpostemon
• The prairie garden and unburned prairie
habitats had the most diversity of
pollinators (number of species) at each
farm (26 and 17 species, respectively).
• The largest number of pollinators (404)
were collected in the pepper field at
Mustard Seed Farm.

December 6, 2014