Field day showcases collaborative work between landowner, operator


Iowa landowner Lee Tesdell would like to see more landowners begin to think seriously about conservation and for many, like him, that means working collaboratively with those who rent their land.  

“It’s real important for landowners and operators to work together,” Lee told Brent Barnett of Iowa Agribusiness Radio Network in an interview following the field day, “Cover Crops and Saturated Buffers: Teaming Up for Better Water Quality” Aug. 23, at his operation, Tesdell Century Farm, near Slater, Iowa. “Be good citizens, work with your operator, offer to pay for cover crop costs to get started. Whatever it takes.” 

Lee and his operator Mike Helland welcomed nearly 100 people to their farm for the event, hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, and Rantizo. 

For 10 years, Lee and Mike have implemented several in-field and edge-of-field conservation practices. During the field day, visitors watched a demonstration of drone seeding cover crops, including a multi-species swarm seeding by Rantizo, saw how Lee and Mike use a saturated buffer to address water quality, and learned about watershed conservation programs. The Heartland Co-op Conservation Trailer was also on hand. 

“Lee and Mike are a wonderful example of a landowner-tenant relationship, in which they work together to achieve their goals and take care of their land,” said Kayla Bergman, senior policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs. “The conservation they have incorporated in their operation are important in addressing soil health, water quality, and our changing climate.”   

Feature photo: Lee Tesdell discusses the drone seeding process as he welcomes field day attendees to his farm near Slater, Iowa.  |  Photo by Teresa Hoffman 

Field Day - Tesdell Century Farm

Photos by Teresa Hoffman 

Photo 1: Field day participants gather to see a demonstration of the drone seeding cover crops process. 

Photo 2: A drone flies over a field at Tesdell Century Farm near Slater, Iowa. 

Photo 3: Seed is loaded into a drone. 

Photo 4: The drones come in for a landing as attendees take photos. 

Photo 5: Lee Tesdell discusses how he and his operator are addressing water quality on their farm.

Photo 6: Nearly 100 people attended the field day. 

Photo 7: A saturated buffer is one of the ways Lee Tesdell and Mike Helland are working to address water quality. 

Photo 8: Attendees visit the saturated buffer site.  

Photo 9: A speaker answers questions from attendees. 

Photo 10: The group gathers to see a demonstration from staff of Heartland Co-op, who brought their conservation trailer to the field day.