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Missouri Valley in Harrison County, Iowa — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Agriculture in the Loess Hills

 
 
Agriculture in the Loess Hills Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 10, 2017
1. Agriculture in the Loess Hills Marker
Inscription.  Ninety percent of Iowa's land area is in agriculture, the highest of any state in the United States. As you travel the roads in Iowa, you will notice most of the crops are one of two types: corn or soybeans.

Corn
Native to central Mexico, where it is known as "maize," this type of grass was cultivated by ancient cultures into the grain we have today. Corn is a major commodity in the state, and Iowa leads the nation in corn production. In a typical year, Iowa farmers produce more than 2 billion bushels of corn! And Harrison County farmers contribute 30 million bushels of corn to this total.

Corn is grown on every continent of the world except Antarctica. One of the places it grows well is the U.S. Corn Belt in the Northern Hemisphere — a band about 3 states wide that runs from eastern Ohio to central Nebraska.

Corn is an annual plant that is usually ready to harvest starting sometime in early September through the fall. The plants die when the grain is ready to harvest.

So... What do you do with corn?
You might not realize it but corn is found in many of the items you use every day,
Marker detail: Sweet Corn image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Sweet Corn
ranging from corn flakes to corn sweeteners to packaging materials. In fact, a typical grocery store contains 4,000 products that list corn as an ingredient — and that doesn't include those products that were packaged using material derived from corn.

Corn is also a major component of what may be fueling your vehicle right now — ethanol. Ethanol is an alcohol that is used in gasoline. About 20% of the nation's corn supply goes into ethanol, or about 3 billion bushels.

Types of Corn
Sweet Corn
You are probably most familiar with sweet corn, which can be found in the grocery store either on the cob, frozen or canned. But you may be surprised that sweet corn is only a fraction of the corn produced by today's farmers.

Field Corn
Other corn varieties include dent, flint and flour. These three varieties are often referred to as "field corn." Virtually all of the corn you see along Highway 30 is field corn. Field corn is the type most widely grown and can be used to feed livestock, in industrial products or to make processed foods.

Popcorn
One last common variety you often enjoy at the movie theatre or at home is popcorn. Popcorn is grown in many places in western Iowa.

Soybeans
Soybeans are native to China, where they have been cultivated for centuries, and were introduced as a crop in Iowa
Marker detail: Soybeans image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Soybeans
in the late 1920s. Soybean production and the number of acres planted continuously increased into the 1950s, and has remained steady since. As it does with corn, Iowa leads the nation in soybean production. In a typical year, Iowa farmers market more than 445 million bushels of soybeans. Harrison County farmers contribute around 5 million to that total.

Soybeans are well adapted to the same soil and climatic conditions as corn. In addition to the Corn Belt, soybeans are also commonly grown south along the states bordering the Mississippi River and in the Gulf Coast states.

Like corn, soybean is an annual plant, but it is a legume (member of the bean family) that grows seed-filled pods along the stem. In late August and early September, the leaves turn yellow and fall off. Then the plant dies allowing the beans to dry for harvest. Soybean harvest usually starts a bit before corn, but both are often harvested about the same time; early September through the fall months.

So... What do you do with soybeans?
Many soybeans are crushed to extract the oil, which is used for cooking (margarine, spreads, mayonnaise, etc.), and for industrial uses. The remaining soybean meal is a high-protein livestock feed. Industrial uses of the oil include printer inks, lubricants, biofuels and other new uses under development.

Types of Soybeans
The
Agriculture in the Loess Hills Marker<br>(<i>Lincoln Highway in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 10, 2017
4. Agriculture in the Loess Hills Marker
(Lincoln Highway in background)
majority of soybeans produced are commercial soybeans. There is limited acreage of "specialty" beans, for uses including tofu, high lysine (enhancing the feed value of the meal) and low-linolenic oil varieties. There is considerable research underway to produce additional varieties that are suitable for other specialty markets.

Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is growing different crops on the same piece of land, often changing crops year by year in a planned, recurring sequence.* Farmers in Iowa will often rotate between corn and soybean crops, because the nutrients left in the soil by soybeans one year will help produce higher yields for corn the next. There are many benefits to rotating crops, most significantly is that increased nutrients in the soil produces higher yields and helps to control weeds, diseases and harmful insects.

Terms
Acre — Technically, one acre equals 4,840 square yards or 43,560 square feet. This is about the same size as a standard football field.

A small farm ranges from 1 to 999 acres, a medium farm ranges from 1,000 to 1,999 acres and a large farm is any farm with 2,000 or more acres.

Bushel — A bushel is a volume-based unit of dry measurement for things like fruits, vegetables and grains. The pounds per bushel will vary according to the food type. For corn, one bushel equals 56 pounds
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of shelled corn.

Text and Photos:
Renea Anderson, Harrison County Development Corporation
Elizabeth Birkel-Leddy, Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development
Kathy Dirks, Harrison County Historical Village and Welcome Center
Richard Pope, Harrison County Extension

*Natural Resources Conservation Service:
https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/national/home/
**United States Department of Agriculture.
A Look at Iowa Agriculture, Agriculture in the Classroom: July 2010.

 
Erected by Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development, Loess Hills National Scenic Byway Council, Loess Hills Alliance, and Western Iowa Tourism Region.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Agriculture.
 
Location. 41° 35.009′ N, 95° 50.812′ W. Marker is in Missouri Valley, Iowa, in Harrison County. Marker can be reached from Lincoln Highway (U.S. 30) just west of Monroe Avenue, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located along the walkway at the Harrison County Historical Village & Iowa Welcome Center, overlooking the Lincoln Highway. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2931 Monroe Avenue, Missouri Valley IA 51555, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Terracing in the Loess Hills (here, next to this marker); Loess Hills of Western Iowa
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(a few steps from this marker); 3389 Miles from New York to San Francisco... Join the Ride! (a few steps from this marker); Missouri Valley Veterans' Memorial (approx. 3.6 miles away); Lewis and Clark Campsite Area (approx. 9 miles away in Nebraska); Steamboat Bertrand (approx. 10.4 miles away in Nebraska); The Lewis and Clark Expedition (approx. 11 miles away in Nebraska); Up the Missouri (approx. 11 miles away in Nebraska). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Missouri Valley.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 14, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 12, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 28 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on December 12, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4. submitted on December 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Mar. 7, 2021