Published Jun 27, 2019

the Practical Farmer: Summer 2019

In This Issue

From the Board President

The Power of Community

Field Crops

A Return to Scouting

For the Zellmer family, crop scouting is an integral facet of management on their fifth-generation crop and livestock farm.

Early PFI Members

Farmers from Birth

Jeff and Gayle Olson have been PFI members since 1989 and continue to find knowledge and community through their involvement.

Small Grains

A Versatile Feed Source

Small-grains crops offer a range of benefits to livestock, farmers and the landscape.


Diversifying with Ornamentals

Two Boone-area growers integrate fruit and vegetable production with ornamentals to help sustain their businesses.

PFI Leaders

Buoyed by Benevolence

See the list of donors who supported us in fiscal year 2017, and read why two members contribute through workplace giving programs.

Cooperators’ Program

Seeking Strategies for Corn After Rye

PFI farmers are using on-farm research to test novel management practices.


Making Space for Wildness

A passion for conservation and preserving natural communities inspires PFI members to take unique approaches to creating habitat on their land.

Farm Transfer

From Land Protection to Land Access

In Decorah, community members rallied to preserve land and make it available to beginning farmers.


Feeding Apple Cider Vinegar to Dairy Cattle

Apple cider vinegar has long been used as a folk remedy for humans and livestock. But is it effective? Several farmers put this age-old supplement to the test.

Beginning Farmers

Farming With a Plan

A business plan crafted while in the Savings Incentive Program continues to help Caleb and Jacqueline Shinn navigate their farm through change.

Member Book Review

Review of: “Nourishment: What Animals Can Teach Us About Rediscovering Our Nutritional Wisdom”

PFI News

Meet Our Green Iowa AmeriCorps Service Members

Four service members will expand our work capacity for the summer

This summer, Practical Farmers is pleased to host four Green Iowa AmeriCorps service members:

Hannah Grosspietsch 2Hannah Grosspietsch – who graduated Iowa State University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a minor in environmental studies. Hannah will help us with field days and other program-related tasks.



Jace Hadish NewJace Hadish – who graduated ISU in 2019 with bachelor’s degrees in animal ecology and global resources. Jace formerly worked as PFI’s media assistant, and will continue to support our communications efforts during his service term.



Taylor HintchTaylor Hintch – who graduated ISU in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in global resources and a minor in horticulture and sustainability. Taylor will support PFI’s Cooperators’ Program and on-farm research efforts.



Grace YiGrace Yi – who is currently seeking dual master’s degrees at ISU in sustainable agriculture and community and regional planning. She earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Creighton University in 2015, minoring in biology, and will support PFI’s strategic initiatives team.


Green Iowa AmeriCorps is a statewide community service program operated through University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy & Environmental Education. It’s a part of the national AmeriCorps program, which is a division of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency created by former President William J. Clinton in 1993 that includes a network of national service programs designed to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health and the environment.

University of Northern Iowa created the Green Iowa AmeriCorps program in 2009 to address conservation and sustainable use of energy resources in several Iowa communities after the devastating floods of 2008. Since then, the program has expanded and now includes three tracks – including the Land and Water Stewards track, through which all four service members are volunteering at PFI.

Save the Date: 2019 Next Generation Summit!

Sunday, August 4 | 1:30 – 5:30 p.m. | Van Meter

Through workshops and networking, this FREE event brings beginning and retired farmers together in a meaningful way to address the challenge of farmland access.

The summit includes two workshops aimed at helping farmland owners and beginning and aspiring farmers develop a plan to fulfill their farm visions.  Farmland owners will work on setting goals that can help them move toward a farmland legacy reflecting their values. They will also learn how to take the next steps to start the transition process when the time is right. Beginning and aspiring farmers will walk through the process of determining their farming purpose and planning the next steps. The event will also feature many opportunities for conversation and networking.

LOCATION: 910 Main Street Van Meter, IA

View more details and register today!

Subscribe to New E-Newsletters Focused on Cover Crops and Farm Transfer

There are many ways to stay connected with Practical Farmers – including through our family of email newsletters. In keeping with our effort to provide content that addresses our members’ priorities and interests, we recently added two new publications to our suite of e-newsletter offerings: one dedicated to cover crops and another to farmland transfer. Interest in both topics has grown considerably among PFI members, and the broader public, and the newsletters are a way to share targeted information, resources and events.

PFI2018 ConstantContact PracticalCoverCropper NewsletterHeader 600x200px2The Practical Cover Cropper features timely information and updates on cover crop management, questions, research, events and more. In each issue – which comes out once or twice a month, depending on what’s timely and relevant – you’ll receive cover crop content straight from farmers’ observations and on-farm research trials, plus peer-reviewed scientific articles to help you answer your most pressing cover crop questions. We will also share events and updates about cover crop happenings in Iowa and beyond.

Our new quarterly Farm Transfer Newsletter debuted in mid-June, and is dedicated to sharing events, resources and information related specifically to farmland transfer.

With these additions, we now offer six email newsletters. The others include:

  • Practical News – our main weekly email newsletter sharing news, events, resources and more related to PFI’s work.
  • Beginning Farmer Updates – a monthly dispatch featuring events, resources, land access opportunities and more targeting beginning and aspiring farmers.
  • Farminar Updates – a publication that goes out seasonally when our free online webinar series, called farminars, are taking place with descriptions and reminders about upcoming presentations.
  • Small Grains News – a monthly e-newsletter filled with helpful tips, resources, events and more dedicated to helping farmers successfully grow small-grains crops.

Members and supporters are welcome to join any of these email newsletters. Sign up for one or many of our e-newsletters!

Meet Josie, Our New Summer Office Support

Josie DubielJosie Dubiel started working with PFI in May as our summer office support staff. She is a senior at Iowa State University majoring in mathematics and Spanish. Josie was born in Evanston, Illinois, and moved to Ames right before high school when her mother took over part of the family farm in Maxwell, where her family now grows corn and soybeans. In her free time Josie loves to cook, bake, read, write, spend time outside and travel, which she discovered through a study abroad trip to Spain last fall.

Small Grains Conference 2019 Registration is Open!

Join PFI for our third small grains conference – this year, in the beautiful Wisconsin Dells. The conference will be held Aug. 15-16 at the Wintergreen Resort and Conference Center. The cost is free for PFI members, $40 for non-members. Registration is required by Monday, Aug. 12. Visit, or call (515) 232-5661 to sign up. Families are welcome! Hotel rooms come with passes to Noah’s Ark, America’s largest water park. A block of rooms is being held for PFI until July 20.

View more details and register today!

Purchase a Unique Ring and Support PFI!

Ring donated to PFIAn anonymous Practical Farmers of Iowa member generously donated a unique and valuable ring as a way to help us raise money to support our work. The ring is a size 7 and features a Michigan stone, three diamonds and 14-karat yellow gold. The ring has an appraised value of $1,400, but is being sold for $700. Proceeds from the sale of this ring will support Practical Farmers of Iowa. Purchase this ring on Facebook Marketplace.

Upcoming Events

July 10, 2019
300 NW 158th Ave. Slater 50244 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
July 17, 2019
Grundy County Fairgrounds | 1308 4th St. | Grundy Center 50638 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM
August 4, 2019
Van Meter, IA 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM
August 15, 2019
Wintergreen Resort & Conference Center August 15, 7:00 PM – August 16, 7:00 PM