KALKASKA — Dennis and Greg Iott grow potatoes for a living in Kalkaska County.
The challenges of making it work on a potato farm in northern Michigan are numerous, but through it all, the brothers are steadfast in their efforts to protect their farm’s natural resources by not using too much fertilizer.
“We are committed to maintaining the soil and water and being good stewards,” Dennis Iott said.
The commitment to conservation at Iott Seed Farms, 4637 Cool Road, recently earned the farm national recognition from The Fertilizer Institute. The 2014 4R Advocate Award recognizes growers for their actions to protect the environment through good nutrient stewardship. The Iott Seed Farm was nominated by one of the farm’s suppliers, Dale Dosenberry of Wilbur-Ellis in Edmore.
“They really are a model,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, adding “this is a national award.”
Iott said the farm follows the 4Rs concept, applying the right nutrient source, at the right rate, at the right time in the right place. The farm does so by performing extensive testing on both soil and plants to determine exactly how much nutrients they need.
“In the summer when potatoes are growing, we are sampling leaves in the plants once a week and lab testing them to see if they are getting adequate fertilizer and to make sure they are healthy,” Iott said. “We make the adjustments to make sure they stay healthy.
“We are also soil sampling the whole farm, every 2.5 acres, and we fertilize according to that soil sample,” Iott said. “We are broadcasting … based on what the soil says it needs.”