As the world adjusts to the coronavirus pandemic, farmers roll on. That also means farmers need to continue gathering information about their fields and products.
Iowa State University Extension teamed with University of Minnesota Extension to put on a series of webinars based on “Essential Row Crop Management” during the week of April 6. Experts from both schools gave input and advice each day on a variety of topics, with each webinar only taking about 30 minutes.
The main goal: stay isolated and stay working.
“We said, ‘Hey, is there something we can do to push out some information in a quick format, still be engaged with our clients and them still be engaged with us?’” said Angie Rieck-Hinz, a field agronomist in north central Iowa for Iowa State University Extension.
“This webinar series was born in a matter of two hours. We wanted to make it short because we are conscious of the fact that, at least here in Iowa, there are already a lot of people out in the field.”
Topics covered during that week were cover crop termination, grain storage management, management of fertilizer spread patterns, pre-emergence herbicide programs and tillage options for the spring.
Rieck-Hinz said the match-up with Minnesota came naturally as both Extension teams collaborate a lot. The plan came together quickly as they were hoping to connect with those they would normally see during this season.
The response has been impressive, she said, with more than 250 people registering for the series. For those who registered, they could watch the 30-minute webinars live or as a recording later on in the day.
The webinar was also open to questions any attendees could send to the experts.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback from people saying ‘We appreciate the fact you are keeping this to 30 minutes or less. We can come in the house and grab a late lunch and catch a webinar and get back out to what we need to be doing,’” Rieck-Hinz said. “So that’s a positive.”
One of the sessions that got the most response was the grain storage management session, Rieck-Hinz said. The presenter, Shawn Shouse, received a lot of follow-up on his presentation. Having a more in-depth discussion on that topic could happen in the future.
This could be a sign of other things to come as well. After seeing the positive response and participation in the week’s webinars, Rieck-Hinz said Extension might be considering doing this during other parts of the season.
“There might be sessions later on where we might do longer sessions that need more depth,” she said. “But for now, this is what we hoped to accomplish.”