Published Jan 3, 2014

Annual Conference 2014 — Field Crops focused sessions

By Tomoko Ogawa

Every year, we hear from more and more people that there are too many good sessions at the Annual Conference, making it very difficult to decide which one to attend! Although we understand it might be frustrating, this is also a good problem to have and we are aware that this will probably be the case again this year….

We have introduced the highlights for the livestock and horticulture speakers so far and today we’ll put the spotlight on field crops speakers.

We are offering a series of sessions focused on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy that was published this past May. In partnership with Iowa Learning Farms, we are offering four sessions that explore different aspects of this topic. The speakers include several specialists from Iowa State University, USDA-ARS, Natural Resources Conservation Service as well as many PFI farmers. Practical Farmers Tim Smith and Rick Juchems are among those who will lead discussions on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Tim Smith grows about 320 acres of corn and soybeans near Eagle Grove on the family Century Farm established in 1881. Tim has a keen interest in nutrient management and employs 300 acres of cover crops and strip tillage. He has also been participating in a USDA conservation program that is designed to reduce nutrient and sediment. Come hear how he has successfully implemented cover crops, strip-till and a bioreactor on his farm in his effort to implement nutrient reduction strategies.

Tim-Smith_different-format Tim Smith

Rick Juchems farms in Plainfield, raising 260 acres of corn and 250 acres of soybeans, in addition to running a hog and cattle operation.  As a long-time conservationist, Rick applies a number of conservation practices on his farm, including no-till planting of soybeans, conservation tillage, grass waterways, buffers terraces and native prairie grass. He has also completed an underground waste storage system. Rick has been serving as a soil and water conservation district commissioner, and in the conference session he will share his experiences as a commissioner and discuss current and future challenges with the adoption of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

If you are looking to learn more about modern production practices of an “old” crop that has been regaining its popularity, Practical Oat Production 101 is the session you want to attend. Along with the experts from Grain Millers, PFI farmer Dan Wilson will share his years of experience growing small grains. Dan and his family farm near Paullina, organically raising corn, soybeans, oats and barley, in addition to a livestock operation that includes pastured pork, free-range chickens and grass-fed beef and lamb.

Dan Wilson Dan Wilson

In another session, join us to learn how Dave Bishop, an organic integrated crop and livestock farmer, uses cover crops, rotation and drainage water management to improve his farm’s profitability and environmental stewardship. With his son, Hans, and Hans’ wife, Katie, Dave operates PrairiErth Farm, a diverse 300-acre farm in central Illinois. Their organic operation includes corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa and grass hay, along with vegetables, flowers and fruits. Their livestock operation includes pasture-raised beef, pork, and poultry.

Gabe Brown, highlighted earlier as one of the livestock speakers, will also be of interest to many field crop farmers. A farmer from North Dakota, he operates an integrated crop and livestock farm and is widely regarded as an expert in cover crops and soil health. With his wife, Shelly, and son, Paul, Gabe operates 5,400-acre Brown’s Ranch. As part of their goal of mproving soil health and solving problems in a natural and sustainable way, they use diverse management practices that include Holistic Management, no-till farming, cover and companion crops and high-density grazing. These practices help the Browns achieve increased production and profit, as well as a higher quality of life. Gabe will talk about his experiences working with multi-species cover crops. Come learn about adding various cover crop species to your farm and how to best use them.

Gabebrown Gabe Brown

See you in a few weeks!