Published Jun 21, 2017

Small grains production will be the focus of new Practical Farmers conference plus several field days this summer

By Practical Farmers of Iowa


Nick Ohde | Research & Media Coordinator | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

Alisha Bower | Midwest Cover Crop Associate | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

AMES, Iowa — Due to low commodity prices, farmers are seeking alternative crops that are cheaper to grow. Small grains crops like barley, oats, rye, triticale and wheat are very low-input crops that can fit this need in farmers’ operations – but many farmers need help getting started.

Practical Farmers of Iowa is answering the call for more resources and education on small grains production with a conference and five field days devoted to the topic in 2017. Attendees at these events will learn about a range of issues related to growing small grains, and will also benefit from meeting other farmers who are curious about or experimenting with these crops.

New this year, Practical Farmers is putting on its first conference focused exclusively on small grains. The conference – “Rotationally Raised – Making Small Grains Work” – will take place from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17 at the Quality Inn and Suites in Ames. Registration is required by Thursday, Aug. 10, and is free for PFI members and $40 for non-members.

The conference will start with lunch at 11:30 a.m., where participants will hear a keynote from Don Halcomb, chairman of the Kentucky Small Grain Promotion Council. Don will share the history of how growers in Kentucky came together to create an association and wheat checkoff that has propelled Kentucky wheat production to nearly 30 million bushels annually through investment in small grains research, education and promotion.

The day will then feature four one-hour sessions on topics ranging from small grains production and markets to extended rotations, green manure and nitrogen synchronization. The afternoon will conclude with a reception where farmers will have the opportunity to interact directly with small grains buyers. For the full conference schedule – or to register – visit

Practical Farmers has also organized several small grains-focused field days as part of its 2017 field day series where farmers can learn more about the benefits of small grains directly from their farming peers:

  • June 28 – Ridge-Till, Weed Management and Oat Production – Minburn – 1 to 4 p.m.; Hosted by: Craig Fleishman
  • June 29 – Two New Grains and Their Uses: Hybrid Rye and Kernza – New Hampton – 2 to 5 p.m.; Hosted by: Tom and Irene Frantzen and family
  • July 11 – Transitioning to Organic Crop Farming: Tips to Help You Succeed – Ida Grove – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Hosted by: Jack, Linda and Scott Ausborn
  • September 7 – Oat, Hay and Feed Production and Direct-Marketing – Dunkerton –  3 to 6 p.m.; Hosted byCanfield family
  • September 9 – Organic Crop and Hog Production + Water Quality Practices – Harlan – 1 to 4:30 p.m.; Hosted by: Rosmann family

A flyer summarizing all the Practical Farmers small grains events taking place this summer is available at For questions about these events, contact Alisha Bower at (515) 232-5661 or

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