Category Archives: Agriculture

Lesson Learned from the Land Article

As I mapped soils throughout eastern Iowa back in the early 70’s, it was interesting for me to put together a picture of what the original landscape looked like.  In eastern Cedar County, I came upon some soils that did not fit the general description of prairie or savanna soils in that they were somewhere in between the two. I pondered this as I walked day after day over the land and began to see the picture in my mind.  Savannas are transitions from prairie to a micro climate that favors some tree growth.  There must be all grades of transition but what are they called?  When does a prairie become a prairie as we walk westward out of the timber into the savanna into the “prairie”?  When does a prairie become a savanna?  What is your definition of a savanna?  I don’t think there is a definition or name that can be placed on this “la la land of the past”.  One way to look at these ecosystems is to imagine an interaction not individual influences, although they may be critical.  If we back away in time and peer down from above, we can see a constant winning and waning of movement much like the tides that come and go.

What footprint is left in the soil to give us clues to the past? Certainly visual imprints are evident even though the land is now covered with corn and beans.

John Madson, who wrote Where the Sky Began, so beautifully described his vision of coming out of the timber and seeing, looming in front of him, an open sky and a sea of grass as far as the eye could see.  He made mention of the front line soldiers sent out by the savanna or timber which allowed the advancement of the savanna and timber upon the prairie.  Wild plumb trees were sent out as a front line defense or offense depending upon which the environment favored.  Sometimes the battle would be won by the prairie and other times by the savanna and eventually a total overthrow of one over the other but the soldiers of the front line are always forgotten for they are in this “la la land of transition”.   I was reminded of them that day in Cedar County, Iowa as I observed the grainy grey coats of the now vanished front line soldiers of the savanna who left their mark upon the prairie soil profile.  Were they lost in battle as they succumbed to the forces of the prairie or were they stopped dead in their tracks by the ever- advancing moldboard plow?

I am reminded of my life and how it is much like this ever- changing world that we know as Prairie and Savanna but not a struggle or battle but the ebb and flow with the tides of life.  Just as every component of the prairie and savanna are a part of the total wonderment of creation so are we.  Are we on the frontline of change?  Do we have the courage to move forward regardless of the elements that we face?  The lessons of the land are there for all of us if we just open our eyes and hearts and breathe in the intuitive powers of this great planet.

Howard Bright, President
Ion Exchange, Inc.
http://www.ionxchange.com
800-291-2143
“Helping you create your own natural beauty”

Iowan’s Plant Natives at Half the Cost Article

Iowan’s are planting native wildflowers and grasses at one half the cost of the seed.  Through a special program and a cooperative effort amongst private growers, Iowa DNR and Pheasants Forever, it is possible to get a voucher to add much diversity to your landscape using species that are native to Iowa.  This is a one of a kind program that benefits everyone involved.  It provides wildlife cover for pheasants, deer, rabbits and a host of beneficial insects including butterflies, moths and many other pollinators.  The natives include such species as Indian Grass and Big Bluestem which root down to enormous depths into the soil which control erosion much better than European imports such as Broom Grass.

Iowa witnessed one of the largest and fastest ecosystem loss in the world as the Tallgrass Prairie was very quickly turned into corn production.  Millions of acres of black rich soil that had been created by the deep-rooted prairie has now vanished.

Thanks to this special Habitat Program created by the  cooperation of Iowa Landowners, Iowa Native Seed Growers, The Iowa DNR and Pheasants Forever, the once lost Tallgrass Prairie is returning to once again replenish precious topsoil and control erosion.

By Howard Bright  http://ionxchange.com/

Earthyman Article: Behold the Natural Beauty but Don’t Compare or Curse the Burdock

In Western traditions we are constantly comparing one thing to the other.  Which do you like better… brown or blue eyes, basketball or football,  chicken or fish?  Nature did not give us all the glorious scenes to judge one place or species over the other.  Why does one thing have to be better than another?   Think about it.  When we compare or try to make one thing better than another, our minds leave the natural beauty of the entity and go to a place of judgement and diminish the innate qualities of that which is being analyzed.

More examples that nature puts before us to admire but get turned around occur in the plant world.   One such example is the Common Burdock, known as a terrible weed, ugly and a plague for horses’ manes and tails.  Soon, a hatred is built up regarding this plant.  What did “The Great Spirit” have in mind when the Burdock was born into existence?  Certainly it is well equipped to survive as the seed heads cling to any thing that brushes up against it .  It is even more tenacious than velcro which by the way was invented as this natural clinging trait of Burdock was copied by man.  Certainly if we were hungry or starving we could dig the roots of Burdock and survive by eating them.

If we look closely to the flower of the Burdock, it holds its own natural beauty but it is not considered as a prize wildflower possession by any landscaper or gardener.  Truly the beauty is lost as we curse the power that the Burdock has over us.  We wage war against it by digging it, spraying it and killing it anyway that we can.  Can we change these natural traits or is “The Great Spirit” trying to tell us something?  When did we start to complain about this plant?  The more we complained, the more we got.  Right?  Nature’s signs go unheeded and the Burdock serves as a red flag that something isn’t right with the harmony of our use of the land.  As an early indicator, it makes itself obvious as we overgraze our pastures and pay no attention to the overuse of them.  Those who heed the warning sign back away and start treating the land with more respect and the Burdock starts to diminish over time.

Burdock is not less than, more than or uglier than.  It just is, so appreciate your football or basketball for what it is and as we adjust our lives to look beneath the surface and accept all diversity as beautiful in its own light.

Howard Bright

http://ionxchange.com/

hbright@acegroup.cc

Article On Whats in Bloom: Silphiums for fall (native prairie plants), tough species that need little water | Max’s Greener Places

Whats in Bloom: Silphiums for fall (native prairie plants), tough species that need little water

‘Drought tolerant’. That is the description we all want to hear, and will most certainly need to hear as time goes by and water becomes increasingly expensive, and perhaps scarce in some regions. Four silphiums make up the family : Compass plant, cup plant, rosin weed, and prairie dock all present bright sulphur yellow blooms, and large tough leaves.

Max’s Greener Places

To Purchase Native Wildflowers & Prairie Plants Visit Us At http://ionxchange.com/

Decorah Students Tour at Ion Exchange, Inc., Native Seed and Plant Nursery in NE Iowa

Thank you so very much for the tour today. We really appreciate all of your help with this. The tour was excellent.

Thanks again. 🙂

http://ionxchange.com/pages/Ion-Exchange%2C-Inc..html

Earthyman views Swamp Betony (Pedicularis lanceolata) in bloom at Ion Exchange, Native Seed and Plant Nursery in NE Iowa

Earthyman views Swamp Betony (Pedicularis lanceolata) in bloom at Ion Exchange, Native Seed and Plant Nursery in NE Iowa. Swamp Betony is a wetland wildflower. It is also known as Swamp Lousewort and attracts many Pollinating Insects

Swamp lousewort can be confused with a related plant, wood betony. Swamp lousewort, however, is a taller, more upright plant, and its leaves have no stalk or only a very short stalk.
To Purchase Visit Us At http://ionxchange.com/products/PEDICULARIS-LANCEOLATA-%7C-Swamp-Lousewort.html

The High Line Plant of the Week: Prairie Dropseed Sporobolis Heterolepis Native Grass

Click On The Link Below to View High Line Plant of The Week Prairie Dropseed

The High Line Article

To Purchase Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolis Heterolepis) Visit Us At http://ionxchange.com/products/SPOROBOLIS-HETEROLEPIS-%7C-Prairie-Dropseed.html

(PLS) Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) is a species of perennial prairie grass native to a widespread area of the US (from the Mid-West to the eastern seaboard . Taking up to five years to mature from seed, the adult dropseed can range from 1-4 feet tall. Favors moist to drier soils, however, it is drought-resistant but is not found in wetlands. Its long luscious green leaves grow in bunches around a circular base and are no more than 1/8th of an inch wide. The leaves range in color from a rich green hue in summer to a golden rust complexion in the fall. From late July to mid-September, the grass blooms with rusty-tan flowers. The grass is favored by decorative landscapers because of its tendency to grow in bunches. The seedhead is sometimes described as having the vague scent of fresh popcorn, cilantro, or sunflower seeds.

http://ionxchange.com/

Summer Blooming Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) at Ion Exchange, Inc.

To Purchase Yarrow Visit Us At http://ionxchange.com/products/ACHILLEA-MILLEFOLIUM-%7C-Yarrow.html

Product Description

Yarrow, (Achillea Millefolium) is very common to fields, pastures, disturbed areas, roadsides, previously disturbed prairies and open sites throughout the Tallgrass biome. Tiny white flowers in umbels at the top of the plant bloom from June to September. Feathery, fern-like leaves up to 5 inches long. Generally reaches about 1 1/2 feet tall but does grow slightly taller in some places.

Achillea after Achilles of Greek mythology who is said to have used it medicinally and millifolia meaning “thousand-leaved”.Asteraceae Family – “Common Yarrow, Gordaldo, Gordoloba, Milfoil, Knight’s Milfoil, Milfoil Thousand-leaf, Bloodwort, Woundwort, Devil’s Plaything, Green Arrow, Thousand Leaf, Thousand-seal, Thousand-leaved clover, Cammock, Carpenter Grass, Dog Daisy, Wooly Yarrow, Nosebleed Weed, Old Man’s Pepper, Sanguinary, Soldier’s Woundwort”

Earthyman views Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) at Ion Exchange, native seed and plant nursery in NE Iowa.

Indiangrass is a Perennial Native Prairie Grass that works as a Great Barrier and is Very Deep Rooted so Controls Erosion

To Purchase Indiangrass Visit Us At http://ionxchange.com/products/SORGHASTRUM-NUTANS-%7C-Indiangrass.html

http://ionxchange.com/

Earthyman’s Youtube Video of Wild Goldenglow (Rudbeckia lanciniata) at Ion Exchange, Inc.

Earthyman views Wild Goldenglow (Rudbeckia lanciniata) also known as Greenheaded Coneflower at Ion Exchange, native seed and plant nursery in NE Iowa. Wild Goldenglow is a great pollinator along your woodland edge.

To Purchase This Native Wildflower Visit Our Website at http://ionxchange.com/products/RUDBECKIA-LACINIATA-%7C-Wild-Golden-Glow.html