You’ve got to have some kind of cover on the soil to protect it and improve soil health. That’s what conservation is all about – maintaining fertility, preserving the health of the soil and the productivity of the farm.

Julius Schaaf

Fremont County

Fremont County

Farming Operation

  • Fifth-generation corn and soybean farmer in southwest Iowa who farms with his son and a longtime partner
  • Recipient of a 2017 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award
  • Past chairman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board
  • Past chairman of the U.S. Grains Council
  • Helped establish and still sits on the board of MAIZALL, a coalition of maize farmer associations from Argentina, Brazil and the U.S.




4R Plus Practices Used

  • 100% no-till on rolling land for 25-plus years
  • Plants cover crops on all corn ground going into beans
  • Installed terraces and waterways – and repaired a lot of those terraces after the 2019 floods
  • Restored wetlands, added ponds and expanded quail habitat
  • Extensive soil testing every two years on 2.5-acre grids to ensure good soil fertility
  • Precision application of fertilizers
  • Precision planting using variable seeding prescriptions
  • Yield mapping to pinpoint problem areas in fields

Results Seen

  • Increased organic matter and better weed control
  • Improved water-holding and nutrient-holding capacity of the soils
  • Cover crops suppress weeds and early weed growth, making weed control less difficult
  • Earthworms help prevent terrace flooding
  • Yield-mapping identifies spots to target conservation practices




Plans for the Future

  • Continue helping with the farm during the transition from father to son
  • Continue no-tilling, cover cropping and conservation practices for the soil health and financial benefits
  • Continue caring for all the land they farm, owned and rented
  • Maintain good relationships with landlords and neighbors and keep them informed of the benefits of 4R Plus practices

Click here to ask Julius Schaaf a question about the farming operation.


Spring 2021: Improve Soil Water-Holding Capacity to Produce More Crops with Less

Fremont County corn and soybean farmer Julius Schaaf began experimenting with no-till in the 1980s and has been 100% no-till on rolling farmland for 25-plus years. He remembers a time when machinery made it more difficult to no-till but is happy to report it’s now a common practice in his area to limit erosion – even on the rented land.

Schaaf says maintenance on the terraces, waterways and buffer strips is important and something that kept him, his son and a longtime partner busy after the spring floods of 2019. “We’ve restored wetlands, added ponds and expanded quail habitat,” he said.


Click here for the full story.