Practical News
October 26, 2018
Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
Have you ever seen a farmer so excited to find a thistle? Andy Dunham, of Grinnell Heritage Farm , shows guests at his August PFI field day a native thistle growing in his pollinator habitat. When looking for pollinator-friendly plants, the bigger the field thistle, the better. A discussion of native thistles was among the range of topics covered at the field day, which explored on-farm habitat for beneficial insects. Read more about native thistles in this field day blog recap.
2 - 4 p.m. | Council Bluffs | Potluck - RSVPs suggested

8 a.m. - 5 p.m. (daily) | West Branch | Event Full - Join Waiting List

Nov. 8: Field Day - Root and Tuber Crop Production
3 - 5 p.m. | Sioux Center | RSVPs appreciated

Des Moines | Register here

Nov. 30 - Dec. 1: 2018 Beginning Farmer Retreat
Montour | Register Here
Though 72 percent of Iowa’s land is dedicated to agriculture, the state isn’t immune to food security issues. Approximately 1 in 8 Iowans are food-insecure, and 1 in 5 Iowa children are food-insecure.

John Gilbert, Iowa Falls farmer, has been encouraging Practical Farmers of Iowa to bring farmers’ perspectives to the table at the World Food Prize’s annual Hunger Summit. John said, “The topic of food security needs to be a part of the whole local foods agenda. Bottom line, the needs in rural communities are probably greater than anyone wants to admit.” Read more about local food here.
Barley has a similar nutrient profile to corn, making it a versatile feed grain. Compared to other small grains, barley has a lower metabolizable energy (ME) value than rye and corn. Like oats, barley has higher fiber content than other small grains because the kernels are encased in a hull.  Read more about the possibilities of feeding barley to pigs here.
Practical Farmers of Iowa partnered with the Xerces Society for this field day at Grinnell Heritage Farm, hosted by farmers Andy and Melissa Dunham. 

Throughout the day, the group discussed how to install and manage beetle banks, flowering shrubs rows, conifer plantings, flowering beds for pollinators, multi-species pasture and cover crops in vegetable cropping systems. Read more about beneficial insect habitat here.
Are you a vegetable farmer or researcher who studies horticultural crops? Our new Farmer-to-Farmer Vegetable Yield and Production Data page is now live, and was created with you in mind.

The site lets you:

  • anonymously (or openly) share your yield and production data

  • view the entire data set -- or search for and filter by specific crops, varieties, harvest dates, production zones, states and infrastructure used

  • download data for your own use

The new page also offers an easier way for us to share our collection of vegetable yield data, gathered through our Cooperators' Program, with the public.

We encourage you to share your yield data through this web page in the spirit of farmer-to-farmer knowledge-sharing!
Time and again, farmers tell us that having a mentor made an impact on their ability to be successful. We want to support you in becoming a role model and teacher for those just starting out in farming.

We are seeking experienced farmers to build our mentor pool. Mentorship places you in a position to positively influence those starting their farming journey.

Nominate a Farmer for Our 2019 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award!
Nominations are now being accepted for our 2019 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award!

We grant this award annually to the person who has been most influential in creating healthy soil, healthy food, clean air, clean water, resilient farms and vibrant communities. Practical Farmers board members will choose the winner based on the nominations you submit.

The recipient will be recognized at our 2019 annual conference, Jan. 18-19, in Ames. To nominate someone, please fill out this simple nomination form.
Upcoming Field Days and Events
Sunday, October 28
2 - 4 p.m. | Council Bluffs, IA
Potluck - bring a side dish to share

Enjoy an autumn break to gather with other beginning farmers at Hidden Hollow Farm . Visit with friends – and make new ones – while sharing this year’s successes and challenges. Heath Hoppes will share more about his farm and his farming vision. Weather permitting, he will provide a hayrack tour to those interested. Pack your lawn chair and join us! Visit the Facebook event for more details.
Thursday, Nov. 1 - Saturday, Nov. 3
West Branch, IA
Event is full - Join the waiting list
R esources will be available afterwards

Over the course of three days, we will dive into grass-fed beef production. We’ll cover cow-calf fattening and finishing windows, grass-finishing genetics, sequencing and managing forage chains, using supplements and stored feeds, and what we’ve learned about pasture-finishing over the last 20 years.

Thursday, Nov. 8
3 - 5 p.m. | Sioux Center, IA
Dinner provided

Join John and Janna Wesselius, of The Cornucopia , to learn about growing a variety of root and tuber crops. John and Janna will share how they seed, weed, feed, harvest, pack and store carrots, potatoes, leeks, beets and parsnips. They will also demonstrate implements, including a bed lifter (undercutter), and lead a tour of their walk-in cooler and root cellar. Read more about this field day here.
Monday, Nov. 26 - Tuesday, Nov. 27
Des Moines, IA
Des Moines Airport Holiday Inn

We are pleased to sponsor this year's Iowa Forage and Grasslands Council annual conference. The two-day event will feature speakers Jim Gerrish, renowned grazing consultant, and Byron Shelton, senior program director of the Savory Institute -- as well as PFI members Paul Ackley, Kellie and A.J. Blair and Joe Sellers.

The event starts with a bus tour of central-Iowa farms that are grazing cover crops, and will include a producer panel, and breakout sessions on grazing, wildlife, conservation and other production topics. Learn more here.
J oin Us for the Beginning Farmer Retreat
Friday, Nov. 30 - Saturday, Dec. 1
Montour, Iowa
Pilgrim Heights Retreat Center

Registration is now open for our 2018 beginning farmer retreat. This year, we will gather at Pilgrim Heights Retreat Center in Montour, Iowa. This annual event brings beginning farmers together to network, plan and discuss ways to improve their farms while helping to build a sense of community among this fast-growing farming demographic. This popular event is beneficial for beginning and aspiring farmers in all enterprises. Register today!
Michael Jackson of Oskaloosa was featured on Iowa Public Radio: Iowa's Harvest And Cover Crop Planting Behind.

Caleb Akin of Cambridge and Noah Wendt of Huxley were featured in Iowa Farmer Today: Continued wet weather raises concerns for soybeans in Central Iowa.

Dustin Farnsworth of Adair, Dean Schultes of Dedham and Nelson Smith of Brighton were featured in Wallaces Farmer: Lost art of cultivating .

Mike Helland of Huxley was featured on National Public Radio: Caught Between Trump's Tariffs And Tax Changes, Soybean Farmers Face Uncertain Future .
Have you been featured in the media? Tell us when and where to find a link to the article, and we'll feature you in a future issue of Practical News.