Management-Intensive Grazing is focus of Knobloch farm field day – June 28, near Bloomfield
For Release: June 17, 2016
BLOOMFIELD, Iowa — For grass-based livestock farmer Virgil Knobloch, producing healthy food for his community is paramount – and it all starts with healthy soil. “Our health is connected to the soil,” says Virgil, who raises organic, grass-fed beef on 580 acres of rotationally grazed pasture near Bloomfield. “We want healthy soils to produce healthy plants for healthy animals – which results in a healthy meal.”
Virgil finishes 75 cattle a year, moving them through the pastures two to five times a day – a practice called Management-Intensive Grazing, which he started doing in 2008 after working with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to install fencing and watering.
Virgil invites farmers and the public to learn more about Management-Intensive Grazing at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day he is hosting on Tuesday, June 28, from 1-5 p.m., near Bloomfield. The event – “Improving Soil and Pasture Through Management-Intensive Grazing” – is free to attend, and will take place at 13222 262nd St., about 12 miles southwest of Bloomfield, just south of the community of West Grove.
The event will include a potluck dinner following the field day, which will be held at the nearby West Grove Township Hall, an old schoolhouse (22050 Eden Ave.). The Knoblochs will grill meat; guests planning to stay for the meal are asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow, [email protected] or (515) 232-5661, by Friday, June 24.
Attendees will learn how Virgil is using Management-Intensive Grazing to achieve his goals: grazing year-round, by improving his soil health and pasture species. “We like to leave as much grass behind as possible,” Virgil says. “The more grass you leave, the more you feed the soil and keep the ground shaded in windy weather – which is good for the earthworms – and the more dew you catch to run down to the soil, which is especially important now that it’s getting kind of dry here in southern Iowa.”
Virgil will also discuss using cattle to re-seed pasture; bringing back native grasses; managing fescue; stockpiling for winter; and free-choice minerals. Virgil raises 14 sheep and has been experimenting with feeding them free-choice minerals to increase hoof health. Doug Peterson, the Iowa/Missouri regional soil health specialist with Natural Resources Conservation Service, will speak about soil health and grazing.
The Knoblochs’ diverse operation includes a cattle herd consisting of Devon, Red Angus and Black Angus cattle, as well as sheep, chickens, horses, corn and soybeans. Cattle spend their entire life on the farm. Cows calve in April and May, and calves spend the next year with their dams, learning how to graze and eat through the snow. Calves are weaned in early March. Some of Virgil’s finished cattle are sold locally, by the half and quarter.
Directions from Bloomfield: Take IA Hwy 2 west 8 miles to West Grove. In West Grove, turn left onto Ebony Avenue, traveling south for 3.2 miles. Turn right onto 262nd Street; and drive 0.75 mile; the farm is the first house on 262nd Street, and is on the right side of the road.
Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 field day season features 25 events around Iowa. All field days feature farmer-led discussions and farm or field tours. Details are in Practical Farmers’ “2016 Field Day Guide,” available at practicalfarmers.org, or for free in print. To request a guide by mail, call the PFI office at (515) 232-5661.
Practical Farmers’ 2016 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Organic & Natural Meats; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); Iowa Cover Crop; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; ISU Extension and Outreach; ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; RIMOL Greenhouse Systems; Riverside Feeds, LLC; Soil First; The Yield Lab; Trees Forever; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; Welter Seed & Honey Co.; and Willcross Soybeans.
Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit http://practicalfarmers.org.
Virgil Knobloch | (641) 777-5586
Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]