Member Spotlight — Fred Abels, of Holland
Practical Farmers’ 2017 main field day season is almost upon us (our first event will take place this Sunday, May 21, at Blue Gate Farm).
Over the coming weeks, to help highlight some of the many farmer-led learning opportunities this growing season — and the farmers hosting them — we’ll be spotlighting many of the PFI farmers who are graciously giving their time to share their knowledge at these events.
Watch practicalfarmers.org and “Practical News,” our weekly email newsletter, for details and updates!
Fred Abels and his wife, Vicki, farm about 400 acres at K & A Acres Inc. Fred acquired the farm from his uncle in the late-1970s after working for other farmers for a few years. In addition to corn and soybeans, he has a cow-calf herd that he rotationally grazes.
He uses several conservation practices to protect his soil, local waterways and wildlife, including no-till, strip-till, cover crops, the Conservation Reserve Program and grass waterways, among others.
A Practical Farmers member since 2004, Fred has shared his knowledge widely over the years by hosting PFI field days, speaking at workshops and events, and participating in farminars. Here are a few more recent ones:
- Field day (2014): “Sustaining the Black Gold”
- Field day (2013): “Combining Cover Crops and Cattle”
- Farminar: “Haney & PLFA Soil Tests: What? How? Why?”
- Workshop (2016): “Cover Crops: Affordable or Not?”
Fred has also served as a soil and water conservation district (SWCD) commissioner for Grundy County.
Upcoming field day
Fred will host Practical Farmers’ second field day of our main 2017 field day season on Thursday, June 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Holland City Park. The event — “Strip-Till and Cover Crop Field Day” — is being held in partnership with Iowa Learning Farms and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Fred has been strip-tilling for more than 10 years, using homemade equipment, and incorporating cover crops into his row crop and livestock farm near Holland. At the field day, he share how he has adapted his operation to use strip-till and cover crops together while maintaining yields, and guests will get to see strip-tillage equipment.
Fred says he wants to show attendees how it’s possible to start using strip-tillage on a low budget.
“You don’t need to buy a new or used strip-tillage implement to get into strip-till,” he says. “I’ve been using a homemade strip-tillage implement for over 10 years and got it where it does a nice job of preparing a clean, black strip of soil to plant into – and I planted into 200 bushel-an-acre corn residue with a winter rye cover crop.”
Last year, Fred gave a presentation on his strip-till practices to the Cedar River Watershed Coalition. You can get some more background information — and ideas for questions to ask him at his field day — in this YouTube video of that presentation.
Learn more about Fred: