The Shepherd’s Life: Soil, Sheep Dogs and Social Media
James will discuss his passion for healthy soil and diverse pastures, while detailing the practical management of his sheep flock: making traditional hay and keeping livestock well-fed through long, wet and cool winters. He’ll speak about border collies and how critical they are to his “dog and stick” farming. You'll learn how James manages lameness, parasites and the extent to which he relies upon chemical “shop-bought” solutions. Economics and social media will be a part of the discussion.
Speaker: James Rebanks
Soil Health and Grazing – Can They Coexist? – “CCAs: 1.0 CEU credits approved”
Cattle grazing has a reputation of being hard on soil and water resources. But livestock that are managed based on available forage resources can have many benefits for agricultural production and environmental quality. In fact, farm resources can be used more efficiently when crops and livestock are combined on the landscape. This presentation explores the impacts of livestock on crop production, soil resource indicators and soil health.
Speaker: Alan Franzluebbers
Organic No-till: Soil Health and Regeneration vs. Short-Term Returns and Weeds
What are the critical focal points for seasoned no-tillers transitioning to organic production? What about the focus for long-time organic producers looking to reduce tillage? These are open-ended questions that Jack will address when describing how his crop production system has evolved over the years.
Speaker: Jack Erisman
Field Preparation, Cultivation and Fertility
In this session Michael will cover the principles of field prep, cultivation and fertility, and how these principles relate to various scales of production. He'll discuss hacks, tools and techniques for farms of all sizes to speed up farm processes.
Speaker: Michael Kilpatrick
Physical Strengthening, Recovery and Injury Prevention for Vegetable Farmers
A healthy body is a vegetable farmer's most important tool. During this interactive session, Tony will show farmers how to safely and effectively pull, lift, twist and carry, and teach techniques to strengthen muscle groups for better stability and endurance.
Speaker: Tony Gallo
Swine Genetics Made Easy
This crash course in swine genetics will introduce you to the characteristics of different pig breeds, especially those best suited to the outdoors, and cover how to select the right breed for your farm. Bob will discuss what to look for in body structure and list traits for selecting replacement sows. He'll also teach the do’s and don'ts of artificial insemination and breeding.
Speaker: Bob Owen
Separating Science From Pseudoscience
At some point in our lives, we've been tricked into spending time and money on something that didn’t pan out. Fortunately, there are some questions we can ask to protect ourselves from being bamboozled. Kathy and Rachel will demonstrate how asking these questions can protect you and help you make sound decisions, using examples of products and services being sold to farmers and ranchers.
Speakers: Kathy Voth -- Rachel Gilker
Q&A: Hiring Migrant and Seasonal Workers and Year-Round Employees
Have questions about hiring walking crews, harvesters, seasonal workers or year-round farm employees? Join this session to get your questions answered.
Speakers: Melissa Garcia -- Amy Beller
Using the SmartMix Calculator to Develop Good Cover Crop Mixes – “CCAs: 1.0 CEU credits approved”
Attend this session for an inside and in-depth look at the industry’s No. 1 cover crop calculator. Keith will demonstrate how the newest version of the SmartMix calculator works, explain the logic and thought processes that went into its development and show how you can use it to select the most appropriate species for your next cover crop mix. Speaker: Keith Berns
Balancing Quality of Life and Direct Marketing by Crunching Numbers
After 20 years of direct marketing, the Cory family began questioning their quality of life and wondered if they were really making money from direct markets. Tom Cory “put a pencil to their feelings” and discovered astounding results. Tom will discuss home delivery, restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, ethnic on-farm butchering, and farm pickup in relation to profits and quality of life. You'll leave pondering your own journey as a direct-marketer. Speaker: Tom Cory
Making Your Planter Ready for Next Year
Maintaining your planter is important in achieving optimum yield potential. But this practice is often overlooked or not always prioritized in the busy times before and during planting season. Randy Peterson will explain how basic planter upkeep and maintenance pays off by ensuring seed placement and singulation, and why these planter performance characteristics are vital to crop performance. Speaker: Randy Peterson
Learning From On-Farm Research: Horticulture – “CCAs: 1.0 CEU credits approved”
Through Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Cooperators’ Program, fruit and vegetable farmers have designed and completed projects related to crop varieties, cover crops, weed control, high tunnel production, trellising, pollinators and more. Join farmer-researchers Rob Faux and Carmen Black to discuss what they’ve learned from their research successes and failures, and how the research process impacts their farms. Liz Kolbe will share how the program works and how you can get involved. Speakers: Carmen Black -- Rob Faux -- Liz Kolbe
Iowa Author Panel: Reviving Culture in Agriculture
Farmers and non-farmers alike have opportunities beyond their purchasing practices to help local farms thrive across the Iowa landscape. Three Iowa authors have spent extensive time researching the challenges local foods and farms face in Iowa, and will share their insights for developing a vibrant Iowa food system rooted in culture and community. Speakers: Susan Futrell -- Brandi Janssen -- Mary Swander
Teaching Livestock to Eat Weeds
Worried about weeds in your pastures? Don't be. It turns out weeds are very nutritious and livestock can learn to eat them. Kathy will share what scientists have discovered about how animals choose food, and how she uses this info to train cows to eat weeds in just seven hours spread over eight days. When you leave this session, you'll have everything you need to train your livestock to be weed eaters. Speaker: Kathy Voth
Winter Vegetable Production
Winter growing can be a highly profitable part of your farm plan. Michael will cover the principles of winter production, structures needed for winter production, how to plan successions to ensure winter-long harvests, and tips for preventing disease and pests in winter production systems.
Speaker: Michael Kilpatrick
Q&A with James Rebanks
Continue conversations on sheep production and farming in the context of wider social, cultural and economic systems with James, a shepherd and writer from northern England.
Speaker: James Rebanks
Pragmatic Approaches to Sustainability and Profitability
Whilden will share experiences from his family farm’s journey to increase profitability and environmental stewardship through crop diversity, precision agriculture and the constant search for niche markets.
Speaker: Whilden Hughes
Learning From On-Farm Research: Field Crops
The Cooperators’ Program is Practical Farmers of Iowa’s vehicle for conducting on-farm research. Come learn about the research design process from Stefan Gailans and hear from two cooperators who have been conducting research on cover crops. Tim Sieren will share details of his trial investigating cover crop termination date and nitrogen fertilizer strategies ahead of corn. Jack Boyer will discuss his recent work on interseeding cover crops into corn.
Speakers: Tim Sieren -- Jack Boyer -- Stefan Gailans
Off-Target Movement: Can Herbicides Be Kept in Place? – “CCAs: 1.0 CEU credits approved”
Herbicides are the backbone of weed management for conventional farmers. In 2017, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received a record 200 complaints of pesticide misuse. The discussion will focus on changes in herbicide use patterns, factors that influence off-target movement and concerns about increased Dicamba use.
Speaker: Bob Hartzler
Expanding Operations to Add Beef Cattle
Before adding an enterprise to your existing operation, it pays to explore all factors before going "all in." Join Matthew and Lori as they share their planning process before adding beef cattle to their vegetable and poultry enterprises. Joe Sellers will coach Matthew and Lori to help them make the right decision for their business and their family.
Speakers: Matthew and Lori Wiese -- Joe Sellers
Better Food, Farm and Conservation Policies Through Involvement
Climate change, water quality, soil degradation, rural decline – Iowans are facing many issues affecting the future of our landscapes and our communities. Fortunately, farmers and non-farmers in Practical Farmers’ network see a path toward an Iowa with vibrant rural communities and diversified farms. Two members will share ideas on how to engage your community. Come join the discussion to help shape policy for a healthier Iowa.
Speakers: Kamyar Enshayan -- Anna Johnson
Indoor Mushroom Production and Marketing
Oyster mushrooms are a delicious addition to a farm’s offerings. When grown indoors, they are consistently productive and profitable. Tyson will share his expertise with setting up an efficient and cost-effective grow room, and producing and marketing mushrooms.
Speaker: Tyson Allchin
Livestock Guard Dogs 101
Livestock guard dogs play a key role on farms with livestock. Angela and Jason Johnson have been breeding and training guard dogs for four years. Join our discussion on how to choose the right guardian dog for your farming operation and family needs. Angela will discuss breeds; training; normal guardian behavior; and using dogs to work with goats, poultry, cattle and pigs. She'll also speak on using a llama for predator protection. Bring your questions!
Speakers: Angela and Jason Johnson
Q&A: Strengthening and Recovery With Tony Gallo
Tony will answer audience questions about proper form, strengthening, and injury prevention and recovery.
Speaker: Tony Gallo
Using Tea Bags to Assess Soil: A Low-Cost Approach? – “CCAs: 1.0 CEU credits approved”
Marshall will present some preliminary data from a 2017 study using decomposition of common types of tea as an inexpensive, yet scientifically robust way to measure soil health. This study included over a dozen PFI farms across Iowa. He will present major trends across soil types and management treatments, and also whether the tea decomposition seems to be a good indicator of soil health.
Speaker: Marshall McDaniel
Cover Crops and Crop Rotations in Organic Systems Without Livestock
Using no-till, crimped cereal rye ahead of soybeans can make organic weed control a simple matter. Mark will describe the crop rotations he employs and the cover crop species he plants ahead of each crop in his organic system. He will also discuss the crop, cover crop and tillage systems he uses for the highly erodible land on his farm in south-central Wisconsin.
Speaker: Mark Doudlah
GAP, FSMA and Post-Harvest Handling for Food Safety
With the advent of Good Agricultural Practices, and now the Food Safety Modernization Act, growers have a lot to understand and implement when it comes to food safety. Michael will unpack the regulation, discuss areas where farmers should focus and show easy ways to track the required information, including new software on the market.
Speaker: Michael Kilpatrick
Estate Planning With Farming and Non-Farming Heirs
Bonnie and Vance Haugen have turned over the day-to-day management of their grazing dairy operation to son Olaf and are now thinking about him and their non-farming children in their estate planning. Hear their story and their plans, and listen to feedback from attorney Rachel Dahl about other issues and strategies they (and you) might consider.
Speakers: Bonnie and Vance Haugen -- Rachel Dahl
Q&A with Kathy Voth and Rachel Gilker
Come with your grazing questions! “On Pasture” readers will have the chance to speak in-person with publishers Kathy and Rachel.
Speakers: Kathy Voth -- Rachel Gilker
Foraging for Market: Morels and Greens
Mushrooms are an exciting hunt, but foraged wild greens can also add diversity and nutrition to your market table and kitchen. Join Jill and Sarah to pick up practical information about foraging, marketing and preparing “the best of the best” wild edibles. They will cover foraged greens and morels, as well as a few other safe and delicious wild mushrooms.
Speakers: Jill Beebout -- Sarah Foltz Jordan
Land Access: Pitfalls and Potential
Whether you’ve identified the land you want to farm on or are just starting your search, this session will share tools and best practices to help you in the process. Kate and Brett will cover assessing the farmability of a piece of land, whether buying or leasing is the best option for you, resources for finding land and what to know about financing. You’ll also find out snags to avoid and issues to anticipate.
Speakers: Kate Edwards -- Brett Olson
More Sunlight to Corn = Space for Cover, Companion and Cash Crops
Bob Recker will discuss his on-farm research covering non-traditional corn row spacing to support strip intercropping, cover crops and companion crops, as well as to provide a traffic pathway (tramline) for late season treatments. The yield of individual corn rows is higher due to greater sunlight access and a higher plant population. These sunlight openings proffer an alternate way to use the open spaces. Several will be discussed in this presentation and the ensuing discussion.
Speaker: Bob Recker
Pack Shed and Post-Harvest Efficiency
On a vegetable farm, up to 50 percent of labor is spent after the crop is grown. In this session Michael will dive into principles behind a well-designed facility, tools and equipment to make the job easier, and systems that speed up the process and reduce stress levels. He will share washing shed designs and explain why they work (or don’t), and help you figure out what makes sense for your farm.
Speaker: Michael Kilpatrick
Learning From On-Farm Research: Livestock – “CCAs: 1.0 CEU credits approved”
Through PFI's Cooperators’ Program, livestock farmers have designed and completed projects related to forage production and grazing, feed efficiency, milk production, meat quality and animal health. Join farmer-researchers Tom Frantzen and Bruce Carney to discuss recent swine and cattle trials: what they've learned from their research successes and failures, and how the research process impacts their farms. Meghan Filbert will share details about the program and how you can get involved.
Speakers: Bruce and Connie Carney -- Tom and Irene Frantzen -- Meghan Filbert
Growing Better Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts have become a culinary darling, but their long growing season and unusual growing pattern are challenging for many growers. Andrew Dunham and Ajay Nair will help attendees navigate these challenges and discuss their own best practices for successful Brussels sprouts.
Speakers: Ajay Nair -- Andrew Dunham
Leaving Your Legacy
Seventy percent of U.S. farmland will transfer to the next generation within 20 years, yet only 11 percent of family farms have a transition plan in place. Transition planning is critical to successful transfer and retirement. The right plan can help you leave the legacy you intend! In this session, two financial planning experts will preview the multitude of options available to you, including charitable gift annuities and life insurance.
Speakers: Ashley Shafer -- Kent Creager
Landowners: Are Weed-Free Fields the Best Your Farm Can Be?
Weed-free fields are often seen as signs that a farm is well-managed – but we know that soil erosion and nitrate leaching are problems for much of Iowa’s farmland. In fact, counties where much of the land is cash-rented have very few acres in cover crops and minimal in-field conservation practices. Three experienced Practical Farmers members will answer your questions about how landowners can do more with their farm.
Speakers: Lee Tesdell -- Mike Helland -- Gary Guthrie
Livestock Insurance: Identifying Risks and Risk Management Tools
Ryan enrolled in livestock insurance policies to manage his farm’s risks. In this session, he will discuss the process of assessing his on-farm risk and how he chose the right insurance program – including some negative experiences he has endured. Rodney Sebastian, with USDA Risk Management Agency, will answer specific questions from the audience about current insurance programs and risk assessment tools.
Speakers: Ryan Marquardt -- Rodney Sebastian
Innovations in Weed Control
More farmers are expressing interest in new tools for mechanical weed control. Representatives from implement companies Steketee and Sutton Ag will speak about advances in mechanically managing weeds in row crops. They will discuss cultivators and other innovative weed control implements.
Speaker: Joe Sutton
Soil Health: Continuous Testing, Continual Learning – “CCAs: 1.0 CEU credits approved”
Mitchell and his team at Continuum Ag are addressing soil health head-on in 14 states and three countries. Using continuous soil testing and results from over 1,000 soil health tests, data is helping farmers logistically and economically improve soil health. Learn how advanced testing procedures, including the Haney Soil Health Test, can paint a picture of your soil health while giving you the tools needed to improve your operation.
Speaker: Mitchell Hora