Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
This newborn calf was born on a field of cereal rye and corn stalks at Maple Edge Farm, operated by Jon and Tina Bakehouse, with Bach and Nancy Bakehouse, near Hastings. Cereal rye cover crop fields make excellent spring calving pastures: They are clean and dry, and there's no mud to worry about!

In addition to grazing and calving in this field, the Bakehouses are involved in an ongoing on-farm research trial this spring exploring rye termination dates for soybeans. See results of this project from past years, and view other farmer-led research, on our website.
ON THE BLOG
“One issue with small grains in Iowa, and in humid climates,” says Nathan Anderson of Aurelia, “is that you can have some disease problems.” But small-grains diseases can be managed with both cultural and chemical methods if you know when to scout and deploy defensive countermeasures.

Knowing the key windows for disease susceptibility, as well as when control measures are effective and the potential impacts if you don’t treat, are all key pieces of information needed to make a profitable management decision.
It’s time to plant corn, but the first step is to handle the over-wintered cereal rye cover crop, which is greening and growing during corn planting season. Because of potential competition between rye and corn – and concerns about plant diseases potentially transferring from the rye via what's termed the "green bridge" – the steps leading to corn planting must be handled adeptly.

We have reached out to farmers across the state to provide you with a “recipe for success” -- a set of guidelines to help you effectively kill your cover crops in preparation for corn planting!
NEWS
More people are paying attention to farmer-led research and education and seeing their value in making informed decisions about our agricultural landscape. As a result, Practical Farmers grew significantly in 2018. 

Our annual report is an easy-to-read overview of our activities from the previous year, including stories about our members, updates on our programs, financial information and more. Read the 2018 annual report on our website!
PFI cooperators Tim Sieren and Jack Boyer designed experiments to assess the feasibility of delaying cover crop termination until three to four weeks after planting soybeans in conventional production systems.

“I wanted to further explore weed control and the possibility to reduce herbicide costs with cover crops,” Jack said about his motivation for conducting the trial. Achieving more biomass from a cereal rye cover crop ahead of soybeans was one of Tim’s goals. He added: “Hopefully it would allow me to cut down on herbicide inputs."
Do you or someone you know have journalism or communications experience that could help farmers tell their stories?

This new, full-time position will work with PFI staff, members and partners to grow the impact of our members’ voices in their communities and in the media by coaching them on speaking and media interviews, and coordinating speaking appearances at events and in the media.
PFI is hosting several Land and Water Steward positions this summer with Green Iowa AmeriCorps in partnership with University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education.

Read more about the program -- and if you're interested in a position at PFI, make sure you check the "Ames (LWS)" box under location.
"Here at Salama Greenhouse, we have a great opportunity for an aspiring farmer who wants to get some basic knowledge of growing inside under a controlled environment," says Mike Salama of Boone. Mike is looking to hire an aspiring farmer as part of PFI's Labor4Learning program.

"We have a little bit of everything -- transplants, houseplants, cut flowers, perennials, annuals, hydroponic tomatoes, herbs and other greenhouse vegetables."

If you intend to plant cover crops this fall and want to receive cover crop cost-share, please let us know by answering a few questions here!

New to PFI's cost-share programs are:

  • The ability to stack funds: Private cost-share dollars (ADM/Unilever or Cargill/PepsiCo) can be stacked with public funds from entities like the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, crop insurance and others.

  • Our "40 x 40" option: If you are brand-new to cover crops, you may be eligible to receive $40 per acre on up to 40 acres of cover-cropped ground. 

  • Support for current cover crop users: If you have been using cover crops, you may be able to receive $10 per acre on up to 160 acres of cover crops, or 10% of your farmed acres, whichever is larger.

  • A cover crop seed and planting discount for first-time customers to Iowa Cover Crop and its dealer network (if you sign up by July 1).
UPCOMING EVENTS
Join one of six grazing groups getting together this spring! These groups will go on pasture walks and discuss spring grazing management, first cutting of hay, planting summer annuals and more. Meet and learn from fellow livestock farmers. Each of these events runs from 4:30-7 p.m. and will have a meal provided.
Thursday, May 9 |  Lamoni
Host:  Chad Hensley
Wednesday, May 22 |  Remsen
Host:  Robert Alexander
Thursday, May 30 |  Oxford
Host:  Doug Darrow
Thursday, May 16 |  Lockridge
Host:  Tim Diers
Thursday, May 23 |  Maxwell
Host:  Bruce Carney
Sunday, June 9 |  Charles City
Hosts:  Wendy Johnson & Johnny Rafkin
The grazing groups above are our only upcoming events in the next month.
MEMBERSHIP
Volunteer and mingle with PFI staff and members!
We will be stuffing envelopes for our spring fundraiser mass mailing on Tuesday, May 7, and are seeking volunteers to help! Please join us at our office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. We will be folding, stuffing and stamping letters. We will have tasty snacks from our farmers and prizes for volunteers. If interested, please contact debra@practicalfarmers.org or call (515) 232-5661.
MEMBERS IN THE NEWS
Michael Rosmann of Harlan and Scott Henry of Nevada were featured in the Des Moines Register: More Iowa farmers face trouble securing financing as planting season nears

Gina McAndrews of Ames, Tom Wahl and Kathy Dice of Wapello, Carolyn Scherf of Iowa City and Sally Worley of Grimes were featured on KHOI radio (fast-forward to 12 minutes, 15 seconds into the recording)
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.