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But Iowa farmers would need better markets for that level of adoption, Carlson and Liebman said."Farmers need to be assured they could get good market prices and not have to haul the crop vast distances," Liebman said."That market pull is essential."Grain Millers, a Minneapolis company with a large mill in St."The widespread availability of nitrogen fertilizer in the 1950s, and the increased mechanization of crop production, meant that oats for feed and legumes for fixing nitrogen ... At the same time, more research was poured into soybeans, another legume that adds nitrogen to the soil, and more industrial uses for soy protein and soy oil were developed, Liebman said."Soybeans have largely replaced forages" like oats, alfalfa and other crops, he said. Corn acres haven’t changed that much."Iowa farmers planted corn this year on about 13.1 million acres, and soybeans on nearly 9.6 million acres.
But oats aren't a large part of the feed they eat, Carlson said.
"You’ve protected your soil asset, cleaned up water and provided habitat" for wildlife.
A Union of Concerned Scientists study shows that up to 40 percent of Iowa's farmland could shift to growing oatsand alfalfa without disrupting markets: Neither significantly raising corn and soybeans prices — nor driving down the value of alfalfa, oats and other small grains.
Grain Millers recently added more storage so it could expand its local purchases, she said."We mill many more oats than we can buy in Iowa or the U. Earl Canfield and his wife, Jane, talk about the diversity of crops on their Dunkerton, Iowa, farm, Monday, Oct. Canfield has started growing oats, to help diversify his corn-soybean rotation.
But finding he had nowhere to take the oats, he decided to start mixing them as feed for small operations raising cattle, horses and other livestock."Our grandpas knew how to grow them, but younger farmers might have to relearn some stuff," she said."But I’m not talking about growing mangoes," she said. We haven’t lost all our knowledge."And geographically, Iowa farmers have advantages, potentially supplying several mills in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin."We feel it's something that could help farmers environmentally and economically," Vander Poel said. It says a more diverse crop rotation could save cities and states nationwide 7 billion annually through environmental and health gains that include spending less money to clean nutrients from drinking water.