Published Jun 22, 2017

Field day will focus on transitioning to organic crop farming – July 11, Ida Grove

By Practical Farmers of Iowa


Scott Ausborn | (712) 210-0757 |

Tamsyn Jones | Outreach & Publications Coordinator | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

IDA GROVE, Iowa — There are many reasons to transition some or all of a farm’s crop acres to organic production: access to higher premiums, diversifying a farm’s income stream, reduced input costs and benefits to soil quality and the environment, among others. But making the switch requires careful pre-planning – and a willingness to adopt new agronomic practices, from crop selection and weed control to crop rotation and fertility strategies.

Jack and Linda Ausborn, along with their son, Scott, farm 600 acres north of Ida Grove, raising corn, soybeans, hay, pasture, sheep and cattle. Currently, 60 acres of the farm are in organic transition, and include soybeans, oats, alfalfa and red clover.

The Ausborns will share their experience with planning their organic transition process, along with tips to help other farmers succeed, at a field day they are hosting on Tuesday, July 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., near Ida Grove (5388 210th St., about 4 miles north of town).

The event – “Transitioning to Organic Crop Farming: Tips to Help You Succeed” – is being held in partnership with Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa Organic Association, and is free to attend. Lunch is included, but guests are asked to RSVP for the meal to Debra Boekholder, or (515) 232-5661, by Friday, July 7. The field day is sponsored by Blue River Hybrids, Grain Millers, Ida Soil and Water Conservation District, Iowa Farmers Union, Iowa Organic Association, Organic Crop Improvement Association International and SunOpta.

Guests will learn the basics of making the transition to organic, including what field or fields to convert; crop rotations, including small grains and cover crops; budgets; weed control; fertility; and record keeping. The Ausborns will lead guests on a tour of an oat field underseeded with alfalfa and red clover, and the group will get to view equipment associated with organic farming.

Scott and Jack will also share some of the challenges and decisions that transitioning to organic can involve. Additional speakers will include Seth Smith, a conventional and organic farmer near Nemaha, and Paul Mugge, an organic farmer from Sutherland, who will share their experiences with organic crop farming and weed control.

“It is important for people to look at all farming options to see what works best for them,” says Scott, who is employed with Blue River Hybrids, an organic seed company based in Ames, and also serves as board president for Iowa Organic Association. “Organic may be for some people, but not everyone. It needs to fit into your own system.

“This field day should help people understand the specific steps to transition to organic, and tools that help with that transition. It will also provide a better understanding of small grains production, and a chance to network with other organic farmers.”

Directions from Ida Grove: Head west on IA Hwy 175 for 6 miles and turn right (north) on County Road L67 / Eagle Avenue. In 5 miles turn right (east) on 210th Street and go 0.5 mile; the Ausborns’ farm is the first on the right (south) side of the road.

From Holstein: Go west on U.S. 20 for 1.5 miles and turn left (south) on Co Rd L67 / Eagle Avenue. In 5 miles, turn left (east) on 210th Street and go 0.5 mile; the Ausborns’ farm is the first on the right (south) side of the road.

Practical Farmers’ 2017 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Ag Ventures Alliance; Albert Lea Seed; Center for Rural Affairs; Fertrell; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); ISU Extension and Outreach; La Crosse Forage and Turf Seed; Lemken; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; MOSA Organic Certification; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Valley / Organic Prairie; Riverside Feeds, LLC; The Scoular Company; Trees Forever; Unilever; University of Iowa College of Public Health (I-CASH); Upper Iowa Audubon Society; USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed & Honey Co.


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

The Iowa Organic Association (IOA) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the advancement of Iowa’s organic food and farming system. IOA was founded in 2006 and serves as an umbrella association to represent all of Iowa’s organic farmers, gardeners, food and farm businesses and consumers in building a more sustainable Iowa. IOA’s 2017 field day series is made possible with help from the USDA’s Risk Management Agency.