Cooperators’ Meeting Recap
Practical Farmers of Iowa members gathered in Ames December 8th and 9th to take part in the annual Cooperators’ Meeting. Each year, farmer-cooperators gather to discuss the results of on-farm research trials conducted the previous year, and to identify priority areas for the upcoming year. This year, 54 individuals from around the state took part in the meetings.
In 2014, 65 farmers conducted 42 on-farm research projects. Many of these farmers presented on the first day about their results. The horticulture group included presentations on cover crops, worm castings, mulch types, compost extract, pollinator insects, and financial recordkeeping. Livestock farmers presented on hog feeding trials and goat grazing to reduce parasite loads. In the field crops area, farmer-cooperators presented about trials focused on corn hybrids and neonicotinoid seed treatments. The research reports from 2014 are now available online.
The second day focused on research trial design practices and brainstorming project ideas for 2015. Mark Quee of Scattergoods led members through a quick course explaining why good research design is important. Participants spent most of the day in small groups focused on generating ideas for trials. In the field crops area, farmers identified cover crops and small grains production as two of the most important areas of focus. In the horticulture area, cover crops were also an area of focus, along with financial and yield data recording to improve profitability. Several farmers expressed interest in developing “Dan’s Blue Sweet”, the sweet corn variety developed by the late PFI farmer Dan Specht. Alternative free choice minerals and agroforestry integration were two areas of research interest for livestock producers. In all areas, farmers were interested in measuring and tracking soil health. A complete list of research priorities for 2015 can be found here.