Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — The Jefferson County Cattlemen will host an event to celebrate the production of food in Jefferson County.
The event will be held at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center on Thursday, July 28. The Jefferson County Cattlemen and Jefferson County Pork Producers will serve a meal at 5 p.m.
The guest speaker that evening will be Amanda Radke, who will host a storytelling time for children after the meal, and answer questions from the audience. Radke is the author of several children’s books, and her talk will be about bringing food production awareness to everyone, and to educate children about where their food comes from.
“The purpose of the event will be to understand the passion of each agricultural organization and work together for the benefit of all producers and consumers in the county,” stated a news release from the Jefferson County Cattlemen.
Leading up to the event, The Union will be profiling local food producers, who use different practices, but which all lead to putting food on the table. Today, The Union profiles J.D. Hollingsworth.
J.D. Hollingsworth and his father Dave farm near Packwood in the northwest corner of the county. Helping them is farm hand Cole Reighard, who also runs a cow-calf operation with his wife, Samantha.
Hollingsworth has been interested in agriculture ever since he was young. He graduated from Pekin High School in 1999, continued his education at Indian Hills Community College, and obtained a degree in agronomy from Iowa State University.
Though he does a lot of work around the farm, his day job is as the Area Soil Health Specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which covers 24 counties in Southeast Iowa.
On their farm, the Hollingsworths grow the usual row crops of soybeans and corn, and supplement them with cereal rye as a cover crop. Hollingsworth said they set aside 30-40 acres per year for cereal rye, and have been doing that for about four years.
The family’s foray into planting cover crops came in 2013, and it did not take them long to see the benefits. Hollingsworth said his dad began using them more and more, and eventually reached the point where he converted all fields to no-till with plenty of cover crops.
“We saw the benefit of setting aside a bit of ground each year for soil health purposes to grow that cereal rye, so we knew we had enough seed,” Hollingsworth said. “This year, there’s a potential shortage of cover crop seed.”
Hollingsworth said they’ve had success planting cover crops ahead of soybeans, and with proper management and a little more practice, they will be doing the same with corn. He said they’ve noticed that cover crops are good at suppressing weeds, and holding moisture during the hottest part of the summer. This has led to improved yields.
“When we get into the hot dry times like we’re in now, the soybeans tend to hold on longer, and you don’t see the drought effects as fast as you would in a conventional till system,” Hollingsworth said.
Hollingsworth said he’s proud to play a role in producing food for the county, the state and beyond. He is a fourth-generation farmer, and the family still occasionally drives his great-grandfather’s tractor around the farm, a John Deere Model A.
Hollingsworth has been a member of Jefferson County Farm Bureau for 19 years. Apart from helping to craft agriculture-related policies at the state level, the organization engages in community outreach.
“One of the big things we do is our Jefferson County Farm Bureau Day at the county fair,” Hollingsworth said. “We’re there to inform people about agriculture, and to advocate for agriculture and rural living in general.”
Earlier this year, Jefferson County Farm Bureau met with members of the Jefferson County Cattlemen about honoring food producers in the county. Hollingsworth said Farm Bureau loved the idea, and plans to have several of its members in attendance at the event on July 28.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at email@example.com