College Farm Lab Background
The Iowa Lakes Community College Farm Laboratory is a 360 acre “working farm” located five miles west of Emmetsburg on U.S. Highway 18. (Only five minutes from the campus!) The farm is an extension of classroom learning where students enjoy hands-on learning experiences. The farm supervisor, Greg Poe, lives at the farm which consists of several buildings including beef cow/calf area, a beef feedlot area, swine area, machine shed, a shop and an office/classroom.
Corn, soybeans and hay are the main crop enterprises at the farm laboratory. The students come to the farm in the spring and the fall to gain experience planting and harvesting the crop. Located on the farm is the Palo Alto County Corn and Soybean Plot. All participating companies pay an entry fee to be a part of the plot. The Palo Alto County Corn and Soybean Growers Association offers scholarships to the students. At harvest time, the college sends a sample of each variety to Iowa State University for evaluation.
The college works together with local elevators and other companies to keep on the cutting edge with seed varieties and chemicals. Several different chemical and seed demonstrations are located on the farm site every year. While planting and harvesting, the students learn how to record data using GPS mapping equipment.
The students gain hands-on experience by working on the farm with the college owned 45 beef cows which are Angus and Simmental based. The cows are rotational grazed through paddocks on approximately 55 acres of pasture. Each paddock has water available through a watering system consisting of burst proof, above the ground pipe, with quick connectors every 300 feet.
The farm has a custom feedlot with a one-time capacity of 250 head. This provides the opportunity to feed out steers from the farm cow herd, allowing the beef students to analyze data on the steers from calving through harvest. Other projects in the feedlot include custom feeding of steers.
In the swine area, the college usually has around a 60 sow farrowing and nursery operation. The goal is to farrow 12 sows per group. The students gain experience working in the breeding, farrowing, gestation and nursery. The gestation barn was built in 1999. It was the first swine unit built, in the United States, made by Royal Building Systems PVC/Poured concrete wall method.
Each sow has an identification tag. A sow card is printed for each sow showing her past farrowing history when she enters the farrowing house. The farm has sold several feeder pigs to 4-H and FFA members showing at county fairs.
The college looks forward to having visitors at the Farm Lab. Please call 712852-5263 to arrange a tour.