Showcasing Farm Conservation Efforts

Showcasing Farm Conservation Efforts

Ten years ago, pig farmers Bruce and Jenny Wessling of Grand Junction became the first family to participate in the Green Farmstead Partner program organized by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Famers (CSIF).

The program, which also includes Trees Forever and the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association, was developed to plant trees and shrubs around livestock buildings. At first, it was for aesthetic reasons; but the payoffs have been greater than that, said Bruce Wessling.

“We planted them to help the site look better, but this past winter really showed us they can make a significant difference in reducing the snow load on the building and the snow removal we have to do. They also help us with the utility bills,” he said.

The Green Farmstead Partner program has been involved in planting 70,000 trees on over 200 farms during the past 10 years, said Brian Waddingham, CSIF’s executive director. Besides pig farms, trees have also been planted on dairy, beef, turkey and poultry farms.

Plantings have many benefits

There are yet other benefits from planting trees around livestock buildings. Waddingham said the trees can be used for points on the Master Matrix and reduce odor by 10-15 percent. “That’s what the research from Iowa State University has said, but we think with new technology the reduction is higher,” Waddingham said.

Additionally, the trees and shrubs also create a visual barrier, Waddingham said. “Neighbors can look out and see trees rather than a building.” Neighbor relations are an important service of CSIF. “Trees and shrubs say the farmer is committed to the environment, above and beyond what is required. It says the producer takes pride in his farm and his livestock.”

The Green Farmstead Partner program works with 26 nursery professionals around the state to select and plant trees for a livestock building site.

A buffer of 75 feet by the building is needed to successfully add trees, so it doesn’t work for every site.

Young farmers, young trees

It is working for a site the Wessling’s daughter, Jolee, and her fiancé Austin Saddoris have in Greene County. They planted 140 trees in April this year around their building, knowing that Bruce and Jenny had so many positive outcomes from their tree plantings 10 years ago.

trees around pig barns
Austin Saddoris and Jolee Wessling planted trees near their pig buildings for several reasons.

The trees include Norway spruce, red cedar and Austree. The Austree are quick growth trees planted on the side of the prevailing winds to protect the other slower growing trees.

The evergreen or conifer trees provide year-long protection and buffer for the buildings, said Brad Riphagen, a field coordinator for Trees Forever, who provided the tree expertise at the open house at the Wessling two farm locations.

Jolee and Austin said adding trees to the barn location requires extra labor as the trees need to be watered twice a day during the drier periods of this spring and summer.

As they look to their future together, they already can see how the benefits the trees will have at their barn location.  can grow to a mature and highly effective protection for buildings as the trees planted 10 years ago around Bruce and Jenny’s buildings have done.

Go here to find out more about the Green Farmstead program.

The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers was created by farmers to help farmers raise livestock successfully and responsibly. It’s a partnership involving the Iowa Pork Producers Association and several other commodity and farm groups. The non-profit, non-partisan organization aids farmers at no cost.