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2016 Field Day Recap: Leaders, Lessons, and Looking Ahead

It’s that time of year when PFI staff analyze, scrutinize, and summarize another successful field day season. We have much to be proud of, and much more work to be done! PFI hosted 25 field days in 2016. Thank you for attending.

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Leaders: First of all, none of these field days would be possible without the farmer-leaders who step up every year to host these events. Their commitment in 2016 was invaluable and we thank them for sharing their knowledge and their farms! Some of them stepped up because they found attending field days was an important part of their learning process and they wanted to participate from the leader side. Others, just humbly stated that hosting a field day was a good excuse to clean up the farm. Whatever the reason, PFI could not exist as a member-led organization without our field day hosts!

Jon Bakehouse discusses soil regeneration at his July 27 field day

Jon Bakehouse discusses soil regeneration at his July 27 field day

Here are the PFI member-leaders who “cleaned up their farm” in 2016: Nathan & Sarah Anderson, Jon & Tina Bakehouse, Carmen Black, Ethan & Rebecca Booth, Bruce Carney, Rob & Tammy Faux, Jeremy Hall, Larry Harris, Chad & Katie Hensley, Jeff Jensen, Emma & Marcus Johnson, Laura Jones, Susan Jutz, Virgil Knobloch, Tim Landgraf, Steve Leazer, Aaron & Nicole Lehman, Jan Libbey, Randy Luze, Amber Mohr, George Naylor, Denise O’Brien, James &  Julie Peterson, Mark Peterson, Sara Peterson, Billy Sammons, Frank Santana, Steve Schmidt, Dave & Meg Schmidt, Erik Sessions, Julia Slocum, Lee Tesdell, Dan & Lorna Wilson, Mary & Vernon Zahradnik, Daniel Zimmerman and Leroy Zimmerman.

Lessons: We had a variety of topics covered again this year, directed by feedback from our members and event attendees. You know that pesky blue field day evaluation form that PFI staff relentlessly chases you to complete? Well, it turns out we really do use that information to assess the current year, and plan for the next. Here are some statistics from 2016 to prove it!

 

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Providing farmers with information to make their systems more profitable and environmentally sustainable is a big first step. But, PFI members understand that without putting that knowledge into action, we are missing opportunities to improve our farms and rural communities. The good news is…field day attendees ARE putting their knowledge into action. Here are the 2016 results:

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Standing on the high point of his farm, Aaron Lehman discusses small grains with attendees

Standing on the high point of his farm, Aaron Lehman discusses small grains with attendees

 

Bruce Carney hosted a field day on grass-finished cattle on September 28th

Bruce Carney hosted a field day on grass-finished cattle on September 28th

Comments from attendees on lessons learned:

“Networking with presenters and other attendees is very helpful”

“Considering trying some no-till into rye, reducing tillage”

“Reinforced concepts learned at small grains short course”

“It was great to hear about local practices and the willingness to evolve the system”

“Appreciated the comments about regrets. We have learned a lot in 6 years but have made mistakes we wish we would have done differently.”

Really showed the complexity of being a good small-scale diversified farmer”

“Farm tour was a great way to tackle lots of topics”

“Good info. Good to see another “beginning farmer” and hear about progress”

“Increased appreciation of how much diverse knowledge is needed – and available”

Really helped to be able to visualize things

Sharing failures as well as success improved the learning experience

I should have brought a pencil and notebook

That last quote seems like a good place to stop. Thank you all for taking the time to attend these field days and give us honest feedback for looking ahead.

Looking ahead: Our 2017 field day planning will begin soon. We are energized by new ideas that have been generated through membership feedback. You can expect a Field Day Guide in your mailbox in late Spring. If you are not a member and want to inquire about how to get on our mailing list, please contact us at info@practicalfarmers.org

And a bit of looking back: If you missed a particular field day and want to read the recap, please click on the links below.

Effects of a Custom-Made Roller Crimper on Rye Cover

Reintegrating Small Grains Into An Organic Crop Rotation

Berries + Veggie Starts + Potted Flowers

Cut Flowers: Production, Handling, Marketing and More

Managed Grazing to Improve Pasture and Cropland

Improving Soil and Pasture Through Management Intensive Grazing

Working Together to Keep Children on the Farm

Pruning and Managing a Medium-Scale Orchard

Conservation Practices on a Century Farm

ZJ To Sundog: Sharing Knowledge and Passing On The Farm

From A Soil Conservation To A Soil Regeneration Mindset

Working Together: Benefits of Mentoring and Collaborating

Pork From Pasture (And Woodlot) To Plate

Field Planning For A Beginning Vegetable Farm

7 Farmers, 10 Enterprises: Diversity at 7 W Farm

Partnerships: On-Farm Research and Pollinators

Voluntary Robotic Milking and Baleage For Improved Dairy Production

Workshop: Enhancing Pollinator Habitat

Luze Farm With Tall Grass Prairie Center

Packhouse Tour and Harvest Efficiency

Using Ultrasound As A Tool In Grass-Finishing Cattle

Grazing Cereal Rye In The Fall

Thanks again for attending our 2016 field day events. We look forward to sharing knowledge with you in 2017, just don’t forget your pencil and notebook!

Julia Slocum investigates for pests at Lacewing Farms on August 7

Julia Slocum investigates for pests at Lacewing Farms on August 7