Published Oct 31, 2019

Get to Know Long-Time Member, Dennis Harkrader

By Sally Worley
Dennis Harkrader with corn

Dennis Harkrader stands next to his impressive corn root system.

Dennis Harkrader and his wife Alice have been PFI members since 1987. Dennis first heard about Practical Farmers of Iowa from friend Jim Boyden of Ossian. “At Jim’s suggestion, I went to some meetings,” Dennis says, “I had the highest respect for Ron Rosmann, who did a lot for PFI. He put his whole heart and soul into getting it going.” Dennis Harkrader served briefly on Practical Farmers’ board of directors in the early days.

Dennis has been farming all his life, excluding his two years of military service. He grew up near Fredericksburg, just two miles north of where he and Alice now live and farm. Today, Dennis raises calves, row crops and occasionally pigs on the farm. He also grows corn for seed, raises strawberries and produces green peppers in a high tunnel.

Dennis’s interests in natural and biological systems date back to 1977. He’s very interested in learning about how agricultural products affect molecular soil biology. Dennis sells supplements through his company, Biogenic Enterprises, and has worked with and learned from scientists across the world. Dennis is interested in foliar feeding corn, specifically learning how different micro-nutrient and amino acid foliar feeding supplements affect corn nutrition.

Dennis grinds his own corn and sells products throughout his local community. He participates in community events that expose people to high-nutrition corn as well as different farming practices taking place in northeast Iowa. Dennis says, “It’s great to get kids out on a farm, not many of them grow up on farms these days.”

Though Dennis isn’t involved much in Practical Farmers these days, he does enjoy visiting the website on occasion. He encourages Practical Farmers to continue to explore innovative and experimental things, and to remember that all farming depends on soil. “If you don’t have healthy soil, it doesn’t matter what else you got,” he says.