Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
Maury Wills discusses organic apple production during a Practical Farmers field day he and his family hosted on Aug. 24.

Maury and his wife, Mary, operate Wills Family Orchard in Adel, where they grow organic apples and peaches; raise pumpkins, winter squash and ornamental gourds; and craft homemade products to sell from their farm store.

During the field day, attendees got to enjoy homemade apple cider donuts while touring the orchards.
On-farm research opportunities with PFI!
Are you interested in conducting on-farm research on cover crops? We currently have three on-farm research projects in need of participants.

Read the brief descriptions below, and follow the links for more information or to signal your interest. We have limited funding and would like to distribute the sites geographically as best as possible -- so unfortunately, we will not be able to accept all of those interested.
Project #1: Cover Crops and Manure

Are you curious about pairing cover crops and liquid swine manure? Have you ever wondered things like:

Do I need a nitrogen inhibitor with my manure if I use cover crops?

Can I apply manure earlier in the fall if I have a cover crop out there?

Will a cover crop affect manure nitrogen availability to corn?

Project #2: Effect of Planting Green on Corn Seedling Disease, Stalk Rot and Yield

This is a two-year collaboration with Alison Robertson, Iowa State University plant pathologist, who has recently been studying how often seedling disease shows up on corn following cereal rye cover crops.

Cooperators must commit to participating both years.

Project #3: Cereal Rye Cover Crop Seeding Date and Rate Comparison

This on-going project is designed to test the effects of cover crop seeding date and rate on cereal rye biomass production and corn yield.

We are looking for two sites to join this multi-year, multi-site project starting this fall.

Farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin are invited to apply for cost-share on small grains harvested in 2020 and followed by a legume-containing cover crop. Small grains include barley, oats, rye, triticale or wheat.

A legume cover crop could be under- or co-seeded clover or alfalfa, or a summer-planted cover that includes hairy vetch or field peas.

Practical Farmers of Iowa will pay $25 per acre in cost-share on up to 100 acres per farmer for this combination of a main crop and cover crop on either conventional acres or those transitioning to organic. Certified organic acres are not eligible.

Acres are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. Reserve your acres on our small grains cost-share page by clicking the button below.
Applications are now OPEN for the SIP class of 2021 ! Getting a start in farming can be difficult, and sometimes you need a little guidance to keep you on track. The Savings Incentive Program was created to help beginners establish viable, sustainable farm businesses. The program was structured with input from beginning farmers and direction from established farmers.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Either be farming on their own now and have farmed for five or fewer years, or have some experience working for a farm business

  • Reside in Iowa or farm in the state

Applications are due by Friday, Oct. 11.
Mills used to be hubs of economic opportunities that formed the foundation of rural economies for decades. Producing grains such as wheat, oats and barley required labor both on and off the farm, which kept whole families employed in their local communities.

Today, many farms operate on margins that are too thin to bring more employees or a next generation onto the farm, and grain is outsourced to big hubs for processing.

John and Halee Wepking of Meadowlark Organics are taking a page from history, leveraging small grains and local, community-based markets to start farming – and to provide a viable way to continue the farming legacy of Paul Bickford, their farming partner and mentor.
There are no field days this week -- click here to view upcoming field days!
Sept. 3 | Kitt Tovar | 7 p.m.

As of 2017, Iowa had 86,214 farms. Of those, almost 38% were farmed under a cash rent lease, and 5.6% were farmed pursuant to a crop-share lease. Given these numbers, it is crucial that Iowa landowners and producers understand the legal implications and requirements of their farmland leases.

Kitt Tovar is the staff attorney at the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation. She focuses on areas of agricultural law including lease law, fence and property law, environmental and natural resource law, regulatory law and farm policy.
Sept. 3: Webinar - "Iowa Farm Lease Law"
7 p.m.

Sept. 15: Social - Beginning Farmer
5-7 p.m. | Carlisle

Sept. 17: Field Day - Establishing Pollinator Habitat
4-7 p.m. | West Branch

Sept. 21: Field Day - Rotationally Raised Poultry
2-4 p.m. | Iowa City
Sept. 22: Field Day - Beekeeping in Iowa
4-7 p.m. | Glenwood

1-5 p.m. | Chelsea
Dan Fillius of Des Moines was featured in the Des Moines Register : Central Iowa's first agrihood focuses on putting farm first in $260 million project

Sam Bennett of Galva was featured in Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman: Not as scary as it looks
Note: The full story is only available to Iowa Farm Bureau members

James Holz of Grand Junction was featured in Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman: Cover crop seed supplies look good
Note: The full story is only available to Iowa Farm Bureau members
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.