Published Jun 13, 2018

Field day will explore many uses of small grains, from grazing to brewing – June 28, in Bedford

By Tamsyn Jones

For Release: June 13, 2018


Rick and Pam Sprague | Sprague Bees and Beef | (712) 542-8765

Erin Ogle | Taylor County Water Quality Initiative | (712) 523-2118, ext. 305 |

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

BEDFORD, Iowa — Small-grains crops are starting to get more attention from farmers seeking ways to diversify their crop rotations, boost soil fertility, feed their livestock and other benefits – not to mention save money.

In southwest Iowa, some farmers – including Rick and Pam Sprague – have started growing small grains for a novel enterprise: micro-brewing.

The Spragues operate Sprague Bees and Beef, and recently added small grains to their crop rotation. They also raise corn, soybeans, pasture, cattle, horses and bees. The Spragues practice no-till, and their 60 acres of pasture includes multiple water systems for their cattle.

Rick and Pam will share their experience raising small grains at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Thursday, June 28, from 5-8 p.m., in Bedford.

The event – “Small Grains, Big Opportunities: Graze, Brew, Harvest, Build Soil” – is being held in partnership with Taylor County Soil and Water Conservation District, and will start at the United Christian-Presbyterian Church in Bedford (1500 Industrial Ave.).

Later in the program, Rick and Pam will lead a tour of two of their crop fields – one in small grains, another in pasture – that are adjacent to the church. The field day is free to attend and will include dinner. RSVPs are requested for the meal to Debra Boekholder, or (515) 232-5661, by Monday, June 25.

A panel of local producers – including Rick Sprague, Paul Ackley and Mick Ware – will discuss small grains from beginning and experienced farmer perspectives. Some of the panelists are involved with a group of Taylor County locals that has decided to grow small grains to brew a locally grown beverage.

All the panelists use a rotational grazing system, including a traditional pasture mix, small grains and cover crops. Guests will hear the farmers’ experiences, then walk to two of the Spragues’ adjacent fields to view small grains and see a “pasture score” demonstration.

Additional speakers include Aaron Saeugling, an area field agronomist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; and Erin Ogle, project coordinator for the Taylor County Water Quality Initiative.

“Small grains is a topic that hasn’t been fully explored in our area, and the Soil and Water Conservation District wants to change that,” Erin says.

“Small grains are a great third crop to add to rotations. At this event, we’ll be talking about some of the opportunities that come with small grains, such as grazing, erosion control, cover crops and micro-brewing.”

Directions from IA Hwy 2, just east of Bedford: Turn left (south) onto Industrial Avenue. The church building and parking will be on the west side of the road at the end of the pavement.

Practical Farmers’ 2018 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; Blue River Organic Seed; Cascadian Farms; Center for Rural Affairs; Farm Credit Services of America; Gandy Cover Crop Seeders; Grain Millers, Inc.; Green Cover Seed; Green Thumb Commodities; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); ISU Extension and Outreach; La Crosse Forage and Turf Seed; MOSA Organic Certification; Natural Resources Defense Council; Organic Valley / Organic Prairie; PepsiCo; Pipeline Foods; Premier 1 Supplies; Sunrise Foods International; The DeLong Company; The Fertrell Company; The Scoular Company; Unilever; University of Iowa College of Public Health (I-CASH); USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Service; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed & Honey Co.


Practical Farmers of Iowa works to equip farmers to build resilient farms and communities. Our values include: welcoming everyone; farmers leading the exchange of experience and knowledge; curiosity, creativity, collaboration and community; resilient farms now and for future generations; and stewardship of land and resources. To learn more, visit