Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 fall farminar series starts Nov. 11

Topics range from business planning and bees to soil tests and extended crop rotations

For Release: November 21, 2014

AMES, Iowa — Have you considered extending your crop rotation, adding a new enterprise or getting a soil test to inform your management practices? Tune in to Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 fall farminar series to learn about these topics, and more. This free webinar series is offered each autumn to help farmers learn about business and production issues that matter to them from the convenience of their homes.

The interactive webinars – called farminars – occur each Tuesday from 7-8:30 p.m. CST, starting Nov. 11 through Dec. 23, are open to everyone and allow participants to ask questions of presenters in real-time. Any computer with an Internet connection may be used to participate. Farminars are led by farmers, and many are presented in a “fish-bowl” format where attendees listen as a farmer or business expert answers a beginning farmer’s questions.

To participate: Go to practicalfarmers.org/farminar, click the link to connect and sign in as “Guest.” Pre-registration is not required, but those who register will receive reminder emails one week and one day in advance. All upcoming farminars, as well as free podcasts of past farminars, are also available at this link.

Farminar topics this season will cover business planning; growing and marketing cut flowers; extending corn-soybean rotations; starting a dairy farm; hosting bees on your land; working with the Haney and phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) soil tests; and direct-marketing grain-finished beef.

An additional farminar schedule for Practical Farmers’ winter farminar series that takes place from January through March will be released in December.

The first farminar of the season will be Nov. 11. “Business-Planning with Finances in Mind” will focus on the financial sections of a business plan, and should be of interest to beginning farmers working on their first business plans, as well as experienced farmers who want to improve theirs or get a fresh perspective. Janna Feldman, who runs a sheep and goat dairy near Honey Creek, will share examples from her worksheets and business plan. Jim Patton, a retired banker and Iowa State University Extension director, will share advice on writing a financial plan.

“The background and research is important, but when you have a business plan with a strong financial section, it really provides clear direction,” Janna says. “This is our first year of operation, so at the end of the year our financial plan will give us a much better of how close we how close were to our target and what do we need to do differently. It’s like a roadmap.”

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 fall farminars are made possible with funding from Cedar Tree Foundation, Ceres Trust, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service, McKnight Foundation and Walton Family Foundation.

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Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers that seeks to strengthen farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.

Contact:

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]

2014 Fall Farminar Line-up

1).   Nov. 11 – “Business-Planning with Finances in Mind” – Janna Feldman and Jim Patton

This farminar will focus on the financial sections of your business plan. Presenters will go through worksheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education book “Building a Sustainable Business.” Janna Feldman, a dairy farmer and participant in Practical Farmers’ Savings Incentive Program, will share examples from her worksheets and business plan. Jim Patton, retired banker and former ISU extension director, will share advice on writing a financial plan. 

  • Janna Feldman farms near Honey Creek and started making soaps and cheese for home use in the early 2000s. In 2010 she opened a certified dairy and began making cheese and goat milk body products for the commercial market. Janna is currently milking about 20 goats and eight sheep, and experimenting with crafting mixed-milk cheese.
  • Jim Patton lives in Ames, and was raised on a crop and livestock farm in eastern Iowa. He taught high school vocational agriculture for seven years, and has a 20-year career in banking. He also served as a county and regional extension education director for 16 years.

2).        Nov. 18 – “Cut Flower Production” – Lynn Byczynski

Lynn Byczynski, editor of “Growing for Market” and author of “The Flower Farmer,” will share tips and strategies for organically growing and marketing cut flowers. Lynn will also answer questions posed by beginning flower farmers.

  • Lynn Byczynski began market-farming in 1988, and founded the trade publication “Growing for Market” in 1992. She is the author of several how-to books for the market gardener, including “The Flower Farmer”; “Market Farming Success”; and “Hoophouse Handbook.” Lynn lives and farms in Lawrence, Kan.

3).   Nov. 25 – “Extending the Rotation Beyond Corn and Beans” – Dick Sloan and Matt Liebman

Extending a common corn-bean crop rotation to three or more years by adding small grains can help farmers reduce input costs, manage pests and even out their workload. Dick Sloan, who farms near Rowley, started adding cereal rye back into his crop rotation in 2011. Dick will share his experience and discuss the learning curve to adding a third crop to the rotation. Then hear from agronomist Matt Liebman, who will discuss the results of his long-term research comparing two-, three- and four-year crop rotations.

  • Dick Sloan is a third-generation farmer whose farm included oats and alfalfa in the rotation during his father and grandfather’s time. Like most Iowa farms, however, the rotation was simplified over time. Since 2011, Dick has been working to once again include a small grain by growing cereal rye for sale and as cover crop seed to be used on the farm.
  • Matt Liebman is a professor of agronomy at Iowa State University and holds the Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture. His recent work shows that extended crop rotations can lead to a reduced reliance on herbicides, pesticides and artificial fertilizer, and less use of fossil fuels.

4).    Dec. 2 – “Getting Started in Dairy Farming” – Kevin Dietzel and John Gilbert

Listen in as two beginning farmers, Kevin Dietzel and John Gilbert, share their experiences starting a dairy farm. Learn about the land base needed, market opportunities and demand, capital investments, barriers along the way and more.

  • Kevin Dietzel raises dairy cattle with his wife Ranae at their newly established Lost Lake Farm near Jewell. They are growing their herd with a long-term goal of 20 to 25 milking cows, with plans to turn all the milk into cheese.
  • John Gilbert works with his wife, Sarah, parents and uncle on Gibralter Farms, an Iowa Century Farm near Iowa Falls. The farm raises corn, soybeans, oats and hay and has dairy cows and pigs. The Gilberts milk around 40 Brown Swiss cows, selling the milk to Swiss Valley Cooperative. They also pasture-farrow about 25 sows. Their goal is to market the farm’s dairy products directly to the consumer, with an on-farm creamery to process milk into yogurt and cultured butter.

5).    Dec. 9 – “To Bee- or Not to Bee-Keep: What are Your Options?” – Adam Ebert, Susan Yario and Cheryl Daman

This farminar is for farmers who like the idea of having beehives on their property, but aren’t sure if they are ready or willing to manage their own hives. Adam Ebert of Ebert Honey Company will talk about what it takes to keep your own bees, then discuss with Susan Yario and Cheryl Daman of Heartfelt Heirloom Farm their beehive-hosting arrangement. Adam will also discuss farmer questions and concerns, how to find a beekeeper in your area, and what to expect from and ask of your tenant beekeeper.

  • Adam Ebert works with his father and brother at Ebert Honey Co., based in Lynnville. Founded in 1980, Ebert Honey maintains around 600 hives and produces nearly 100,000 pounds of honey each year. Adam is also an assistant professor of history at Mount Mercy College.
  • Susan Yario and Cheryl Daman grow organic vegetables, herbs, aronia berries, cut flowers and hay at Heartfelt Heirloom Farm in Springville. They are enrolled in Practical Farmers’ Savings Incentive Program.

6).    Dec. 16 – “Haney & PLFA Soil Tests: What, How? Why?” – Fred Abels and Lance Gunderson

Do you wonder how soil tests can be used to help improve your soil management? Learn the basics of two increasingly popular tests – the Haney and phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) soil tests – from soil microbiologist Lance Gunderson, including how the results are determined and how to interpret these results. Farmer and grazier Fred Abels will then describe how he’s used the Haney test on his farm to inform his management. They will both discuss the results of tests taken on Fred’s farm.

  • Fred Abels and his wife Vicki raise no-till corn and soybeans, cattle and pasture near Holland. They use cover crops, strip grazing and grazing corn to economically feed their animals and ecologically keep their soil covered.
  • Lance Gunderson is the staff soil microbiologist at Ward Laboratories, Inc. in Kearney, Neb. He has extensive experience with analyzing results of both the phospholipid fatty-acid (PLFA) and Haney soil tests, and communicating what these results mean for farmers.

7).    Dec. 23 – “Direct-Marketing Grain-Finished Beef” – Shanen and Beau Ebersole, and Dave Hill

Shanen and Beau Ebersole, of Ebersole Cattle Co., will share their expertise raising grain-finished beef cattle with no hormones or antibiotics. Learn about issues from production to marketing methods, then listen in as the Ebersoles answer beginning farmer Dave Hill’s questions on starting up this type of enterprise.

  • Dave Hill is a beginning farmer and current enrollee in PFI’s Savings Incentive Program who raises conventional corn, soybeans and hay with his wife, Annette, near Holy Cross. They plan to expand the operation to include a hormone- and antibiotic-free beef finishing enterprise, direct-marketing the product.
  • Shanen and Beau Ebersole own a small family ranch near Kellerton, where they raise Maine-Anjou cattle and Quarter Horses. The Ebersoles have Animal Welfare Approved certification, and run the ranch as naturally as possible without pesticides, chemicals, hormones or routine antibiotics.

For your convenience in finding individuals within your coverage area, here is a list of farminar presenters by community:

Farminar Presenters By Community

Ames, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 11 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Jim Patton taught high school vocational agriculture for seven years and has a 20-year career in banking.

Ames, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 25 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Matt Liebman is a professor of agronomy at ISU whose recent work shows that extended crop rotations can lead to a reduced reliance on herbicides, pesticides and artificial fertilizer, and less use of fossil fuels.

Holland, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 16 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Fred Abels raises no-till corn and soybeans, cattle and pasture using cover crops, strip grazing and grazing corn to cut animal feed costs and keep the soil covered.

Holy Cross, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 23 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Dave Hill is a beginning farmer who raises conventional corn, soybeans and hay with plans to add a hormone- and antibiotic-free beef finishing enterprise, direct-marketing the product.

Honey Creek, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 11 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Janna Feldman is a beginning farmer who runs a certified sheep and goat dairy, making cheese and goat milk body products for the commercial market.

Iowa Falls, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 2– 7-8:30 p.m.

  • John Gilbert is a beginning farmer raising row crops, oats, hay, pigs and dairy cows with a goal to establish and on-farm creamery to process milk into yogurt and cultured butter.

Jewell, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 2 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Kevin Dietzel is a beginning dairy farmer who plans to process all the farm’s milk into cheese and market it throughout Iowa.

Kearney, Neb. – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 23 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Lance Gunderson is a staff soil microbiologist at Ward Laboratories, Inc. with extensive experience analyzing phospholipid fatty-acid (PLFA) and Haney soil test results.

Kellerton, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 16 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Shanen and Beau Ebersole are experienced ranchers who raise Maine-Anjou cattle and Quarter Horses with Animal Welfare Approved certification and no pesticides, chemicals, hormones or routine antibiotics. 

Lawrence, Kan. – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 18 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Lynn Byczynski is an editor and author with expertise in organically growing and marketing cut flowers.

Lynnville, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday Dec. 9 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Adam Ebert is a commercial beekeeper and honey producer who manages numerous hives and offers pollination services.

Rowley, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 25– 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Dick Sloan is an experienced row crop farmer who has expanded his rotation by adding cereal rye.

Springville, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 9 – 7-8:30 p.m.

  • Susan Yario is a beginning farmer growing organic vegetables, herbs, aronia berries, cut flowers and hay.