Practical Farmers of Iowa begins 2017 fall farminar series Nov. 14

Topics include crimping cover crops, marketing vegetables and farm transfer

For Release: November 3, 2017

AMES, Iowa – Practical Farmers of Iowa takes theirfarmer-to-farmer education format online with their farminar series, beginning November 14 and continuing each Tuesday night through the end of the year. The popular webinar series offers practical knowledge for row crop, livestock and fruit and vegetable farmers and is free for anyone with an internet connection to participate.

Held every Tuesday at 7 p.m., each farminar focuses on a unique production or business management topic. All presentations are led by an experienced farmer or subject-matter expert, and attendees are able to ask questions in real time using a chatbox while they listen and watch a slideshow.

The first farminar of the season features Jim and LeeAnn Van Der Pol and their experience transferring management and ownership of their farm and pasture-raised meat business to their children. Trying to be fair to off-farm heirs along with the children and grandchildren who work on the farm is a delicate balance. “Josh and Cindy have been here a long time, and we are trying to reward them for the effort they have put into the farm,” says Jim.“Two years ago, we made Josh and Cindy 60 percent owners of the LLP – which we are using to edge ourselves out of the farming operation. Our plan is to keep passing over shares until we have a minor share or are out.” Together with farm transition attorney Rachel Dahl, they’ll offer suggestions to help maintain both family health and business health through a farm transition.

Other farminar topics this season include managing a profitable marketing mix for fruit and vegetable growers; terminating cover crops using a roller-crimper; growing specialty cut flowers; and integrating cattle to make cover crops profitable.

An additional farminar schedule for Practical Farmers’ winter farminar series that takes place January through March 2018 will be released in December.

To participate: Go to and click the “Join in” button and select to sign in as “Guest.” A schedule for all upcoming farminars – as well as the recordings for 138 past farminars – is also available at this link.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 fall farminars are made possible with funding fromCeres Trust, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’sWater Quality Initiative, McKnight Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


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


Steve Carlson | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | [email protected]

2017 Fall Farminar Line-up

1) Nov. 14 – “Farm Transfer Planning for the Next Generation” – Jim and LeeAnn Van Der Pol, Rachel Dahl

Farmers Jim and LeeAnn Van Der Pol are in their 60s and ready to decrease their roles in the family farm and meat business. How are they turning over management and ownership to their son and daughter-in-law? Transfer must allow the older generation to be out of the way of the ambitions of the younger ones, while respecting the feelings of the older generation regarding the equity and business they have put their lives into building. Feelings are as important as dollars. Family good health and unity depend on it.Join the Van Der Pols and farm transition attorney Rachel Dahl to learn how they’re navigating these issues and more.

• Jim and LeeAnn Van Der Pol farm with their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren at Pastures A Plenty near Kerkoven, Minnesota. They raise organic crops, hogs and cattle on 320 acres. They also have two children who live off-farm.
• Rachel M. Dahl specializes in Estate and Farm Transition Planning at the law firm of Hellmuth& Johnson. As a former farm kid, Rachel understands the areas in which farmers may need comprehensive advice including estate planning, real estate, leasing, agricultural law and agricultural programs, business entity formation, and taxes. Farming is a generational business, and Rachel helps transition it for your family’s future farmers.


2) Nov. 21 – “Achieving Profitability with Fruits and Vegetables” – Natasha Hegmann and Ryan Pesch

An important step in building a successful farm business is to take time and analyze the profitability of each of your marketing channels. The end of the growing season is a good time to calculate the net return for each sales outlet, and make decisions for the following year. Experienced farmer and educator Ryan Pesch will share some tips for evaluating your farm’s market channels, and he’ll help beginning farmer Natasha Hegmann think about her sales outlets after her first two growing seasons.

• Natasha Hegmann owns and operates Turkey River Farm near Elkport, Iowa, with her partner Peter Kerns. She grows vegetables for a delivery CSA, farmer’s market, restaurants, and a market-style CSA. She is completing her second year farming on her own.
• Ryan Pesch grows certified organic vegetables at Lida Farm near Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, with his wife Maree. He sells his produce through local farmer’s markets, an on-farm stand, a nearby grocery store and to the local school. Ryan is also an extension educator in community economic development.


3) Nov. 28 – “Three Experiences with Roller-Crimping Cover Crops” – Billy Sammons, Scott Shriver, Francis Thicke

Roller-crimping as a method for terminating cover crops in organic and no-till farms in Iowa is gaining interest, but many questions still remain about best management practices. In this farminar, three Iowa farmers will share their experiences using a roller crimper in their respective organic operations. Scott Shriver and Francis Thicke will focus on cereal rye going into soybeans, and Billy Sammons will share his experience with hairy vetch going into corn.

• Billy Sammons farms with Joanna Hunter near Churdan. They are in the process of transitioning to organic certification and are incorporating many no-till principals. Billy has used a roller-crimper for two seasons.
• Scott Shriver has been growing corn, soybeans, and small grains organically near Jefferson for 18 years. Scott has grown rye cover crops for years but just started experimenting with a roller crimper in 2017.
• Francis Thicke is a soil scientist and organic, grass-based dairy farmer near Fairfield, who has experience rolling a cereal rye cover crop after drilling soybeans.


4) Dec. 5 – “Grow Flowers that Sell: Top 10 Sellers at Brightflower Farm” – Jeanie McKewan

Growing specialty cut flowers can be profitable in wholesale markets. Learn some of the most profitable varieties and products sold at Brightflower Farm, a small cut flower farm in Stockton, IL. Jeanie McKewan, owner and founder of Brightflower Farm, will share top selections, growing methods, and tips on production systems to help boost sales and profits in your cut flower operation.

• Jeanie McKewan launched Brightflower Farm in 2006 where she grows cut flowers on about 2 acres near Stockton, Illinois. She grows in open fields, high tunnels, and in raised-bed containers, marketing them to florists, designers and a national chain of grocery stores.


5) Dec. 12 – “Integrating Livestock and Cover Crops for Profit in Kansas” – John and Ian Stigge

Have you ever heard of “graze cropping?” John Stigge, a farmer from northeastern Kansas, owns Stigge and Sons farm, a 2000-acre no-till, cover crop and beef cattle operation. John is an advanced cover crop grazier and in lieu of planting a field for grain production, John plants cover crops and puts cattle out to graze for a whole production year or longer. John and his son Ian will discuss how his integrated crop and cattle system has improved soil health, productivity and profitability.

• John Stigge along with his son Ian and family farm 2,000 acres of irrigated and dryland cropland in a combination of corn, soybeans, and graze cropping in northeast Kansas. They are currently using graze cropping to switch to and sustain organic grain production.


6) Dec. 19 – “Integrating Livestock and Cover Crops for Profit in Nebraska” – Mary Drewnoski and Lane Meyer

How much is the grazing from cover crops worth? Mary Drewnoski, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Systems Specialist, and Nebraska farmer Lane Meyer will discuss on-farm research results of grazing cover crops. Data will be presented on dry matter digestibility (energy) and crude protein content of different cover crop forages, average daily gains of growing calves, the amount of grazing cover crops provide, and the economics.

• Mary Drewnoski, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Systems Specialist, is a part of an interdisciplinary team evaluating Economical Systems for Integrated Crop and Livestock Production in Nebraska. Her current research and extension program is focused on the utilization of crop residues and cover crop forage for backgrounding calves and feeding beef cows.
• Lane Meyer started the Meyer Cattle Company in Johnson, Nebraska, in 2010. The farm’s mission is to use knowledge and experience to breed high quality, well-balanced cattle for commercial cattlemen. Lane and his family have been integrating cover crops into their cattle operation for ten years.


Farminar Presenters by Community

Churdan, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 28

  • Billy Sammons farms with Joanna Hunter and is transitioning their farm to certified organic.

Elkport, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 21

  • Natasha Hegmannowns and operates Turkey River Farm with her partner Peter Kerns.

Fairfield, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 28

  • Francis Thickeis a soil scientist and organic, grass-based dairy farmer.

Jefferson, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 28

  • Scott Shriverraises organic corn, soybeans and small grains.

Johnson, Nebraska – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 19

  • Lane Meyer breeds cattle with the Meyer Cattle Company.

Kerkoven, Minnesota – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 14

  • Jim and LeeAnn Van Der Pol raise organic crops, hogs and cattle at Pastures A Plenty farm.

Lincoln, Nebraska – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 19

  • Mary Drewnoski is the University of Nebraska Beef Systems Specialist.

Minneapolis, Minnesota – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 14

  • Rachel Dahl specializes in Estate and Farm Transition Planning at the law firm of Hellmuth & Johnson.

Pelican Rapids, Minnesota – Presenting on: Tuesday, Nov. 21

  • Ryan Pesch grows certified organic vegetables at Lida Farm with his wife Maree.

Stockton, Illinois – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 5

  • Jeanie McKewan grows cut flowers in open fields, high tunnels and raised bed containers.

Washington, Kansas – Presenting on: Tuesday, Dec. 12

  • John and Ian Stigge farm 2,000 acres growing corn, soybeans and cattle.