Published Jan 13, 2020

Paul Mugge of Sutherland to receive 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from Practical Farmers of Iowa

By Tamsyn Jones
Award will be presented Jan. 18, in Ames


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

AMES, Iowa — Paul Mugge, an organic farmer and long-time on-farm research participant from Sutherland, has been chosen to receive the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from Practical Farmers of Iowa.

The award is given each year by PFI to an individual or couple that has shown exemplary commitment to sustainable agriculture, generously shared their knowledge with others and been influential in efforts to foster vibrant communities, diverse farms and healthy food.

The award will be presented on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 1:40 p.m., in the Iowa State Center Scheman Building during Practical Farmers’ 2020 annual conference, “Reclaiming Resilience,” in Ames.

Paul Mugge has been a PFI member for more than 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, farm 300 acres of certified organic crops. Their rotation consists of corn, soybeans, small grains and some legumes.

The farm has been certified organic since 2001 and features a mature, 17-year-old restored prairie; prairie strips established in 2015; and a beetle bank installed with Xerces Society in 2018.

“Paul is a farmer and a scientist who is always working to improve his land,” says David Rosmann, a farmer and PFI board member based in Harlan, who will present the award during the conference.

“Paul stands out for his dedication to on-farm research with PFI, going back to the beginning years. He’s such a humble, kind guy who’s never thought ‘my farm is better than your farm,’ and he has always been open and welcoming to anybody coming to his farm, and to making his land and research available to other farmers to learn from.”

In 2013, Paul received Practical Farmers’ Master Researcher Award in recognition of his long-term commitment to conducting on-farm research and sharing the results with others. To date, he has conducted 65 on-farm trials – a PFI record that has yet to be bested – and hosted 22 field days on his farm over the years.

His most recent field days include two events he hosted last summer exploring his work establishing prairie and beneficial insect habitat, and organic row crop production and mechanical weed control on his farm.

Paul also served on PFI’s board of directors from 1990 to 1998, and has been active in leadership and volunteer roles with many other organizations over the years.

In October, Paul was selected as the recipient of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s 2019 Spencer Award, which recognizes farmers, researchers and teachers who have contributed significantly to the environmental and economic stability of the Iowa farming community.

In a letter supporting Paul’s Spencer Award nomination, PFI Executive Director Sally Worley said, “Paul has a long-term vision for the farm where profit and stewardship are mutually inclusive . . . . Paul’s farm is a wonderful example of what is possible on Iowa’s landscape.”


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