Published Oct 11, 2021

the Practical Farmer: Autumn 2021

From the Executive Director

Connecting Islands of Resilience

Cover Crops

Grazing Covers Yields Green

Six years of research by PFI farmers shows grazing cover crops pays off.


Grazing Rates: What Is a Fair Payment?

Read about different types of grazing arrangements and how two PFI members calculate their rates.


Growing Community

Brick-and-mortar shops are helping farmers make new connections.

Farmland Owner Legacy Award

Sharing Land to Support Farmers & Land Access

Rose and Mike Roelf are creating land access for community-conscious beginning farmers.


Many Hands Planting Habitat

PFI members share their reasons for adding prairie to their vegetable operations.

Photo Feature

Summer on the Farm

View a selection of images from some of our 2021 summer events, including our in-person field days and “Catching Up” gatherings and virtual “Live From the Farm” episodes.

Beginning Farmers

We are Each Other’s Harvest

Representation matters to bring along the next generation of Black Iowan farmers and growers.

Farm Transfer

Multiple Generations of Pumpkins in Kossuth County

The Scuffham family chose to pass on their labor of love to keep pumpkins local while helping a neighboring farm grow.


Finding Our Voices

PFI members are making their voices heard to promote a longer-term ag vision.

Member Book Review

Review of Kathleen Woida’s “Iowa’s Remarkable Soils: The Story of Our Most Vital Resource and How We Can Save It”

Member Profile

A Calling to Teach

Lifetime member Doug Peterson has spent his career, and retirement, in service to soil health

PFI News

Sign Up For Cover Crop or Small Grain Cost-Share!

Adding a new crop to your rotation or trying a new management practice can be daunting, especially when there’s a financial investment. That’s why PFI has worked with companies throughout the agricultural supply chain to create a range of cost-share programs to help offset the risks. Right now, we have open slots in our small-grains cost-share programs, and in our cover crop cost-share programs.

Extended Rotations Cost-Share

We are offering two cost-share programs for extended rotations in 2022.

  • Earn $15 per acre on up to 200 acres by diversifying a corn and soybean rotation with a year of small grains and summer cover crop containing at least one legume species.
  • Earn an additional $15 per acre for reducing nitrogen on corn that follows your small-grain in rotation.

Growers in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin are eligible for one or both of these opportunities in 2022.

Learn more and sign up

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Cover Crop Cost-Share

If you’re thinking of planting cover crops this fall, you can access cost-share funds from one of seven private cost-share programs in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. Cost-share programs are available for both corn and soybeans. Terms vary by program:

  • In some, those new to cover crops can receive $40 per acre on up to 40 acres while farmers who have used cover crops before can receive $10 per acre on 160 acres, or 10% of acres farmed, whichever is larger.
  • In other programs, farmers will be reimbursed $10 per acre for up to 200 acres.

There’s no deadline to enroll, and you are eligible to sign up even if you are separately enrolled in a public cost-share program. We’re looking to work with 1,000 farmers in 2021, and space is available in all programs.

Learn more, see an interactive map of locations and sign up

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Exercise Your Curiosity at the Cooperators’ Meeting

Dec. 16-17 | Ames, IA

Have you ever asked: “What’s better, the practice I’ve been using or this alternative I’ve heard about?” Do you have something you’d like to investigate on your farm? If so, consider the Cooperators’ Program, PFI’s vehicle for farmer-led, on-farm research.

What is on-farm research? On-farm research puts curiosity into action in the spirit of learning, knowledge-sharing and improvement. With simple experimental design and research protocols, you can test ideas and innovations on YOUR unique farm.

What happens at the Cooperators’ Meeting? You’ll join a community of curious and creative farmers who take a scientific approach to improving their farms – and who respect the perspectives and questions of others. When you participate, you can look forward to:20191212 D5600 CooperatorsMeeting 0008

  • Shared inspiration and mutual encouragement
  • Brainstorming research ideas with others
  • Good food – including at an event banquet featuring food from PFI farms
  • Making meaningful connections
  • Feeling empowered to answer questions about your farm

What happens next? PFI staff and farmer cooperators mutually agree on project plans and commitments. When the time comes to conduct the trials, farmers are at the helm, carrying out those plans and taking measurements throughout a trial.

Impact of on-farm research: Over the years, the work has resulted in more profitable, diverse and environmentally sound farms and long-term friendships among participants. In many cases, on-farm research has helped transform farmer decision-making.

Questions? We’re always looking for new cooperators who wish to become curiosity-leaders that inspire improvements to our agricultural landscape. Contact us! (

PFI Staff Continues to Grow

Christine Zrostlik photoChristine Zrostlik – Marketing & Communications Manager

Christine Zrostlik joined PFI in September 2021. She oversees day-to-day operations of the communications and
marketing team, managing projects and supporting the team as they use a variety of tools to fulfill PFI’s mission. Christine comes to PFI from UnityPoint Health, where she served as the main media relations contact for the three-state health system. She also used public relations to amplify key messages, led a team of regional media leads, supported systemwide internal and external communications and developed communications for crisis situations, including COVID-19.

Prior to her tenure at UnityPoint Health, Christine spent five years at an agency in Des Moines where she used public relations and public affairs tactics to help clients achieve their communications goals. From 2013-2014, Christine also guided a small engineering firm in Cedar Falls through a marketing rebrand.

A northeast Iowa native, Christine graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 2013 with degrees in public relations and political communication. She currently serves on the board of Public Relations Society of Amerca’s Iowa chapter and volunteers for the Animal Rescue League of Iowa.

Christine lives in Des Moines with her partner, Evan, and their beloved dog, Bernie. She enjoys spending time outside hiking and gardening, traveling and going to concerts.

Marit Hovey Headshot 8.20.2021Marit Hovey- Communications Assistant

Marit Hovey joined Practical Farmers of Iowa in August 2021 as a part-time communication assistant. Her work focuses on on social media, email newsletters and website updates. Marit grew up on a small farm outside of Norwalk, Iowa, which is where her love for farming began.

She is a senior at Iowa State University majoring in global resource systems and environmental studies with minors in French and women and gender studies. During her time at ISU, she has had the opportunity to travel to France, Uganda and St. John, an island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to study agriculture and natural resources systems.

On campus, she has been involved in and president of the International Agriculture Club. In summer 2020, Marit served as an AmeriCorps VISTA summer associate with Lutheran Services in Iowa’s Global Greens program in Des Moines. In her free time, Marit loves to cook, hammock and spend time outdoors.

Receive PFI News in Spanish

New PFI newsletter Sembrando ResilienciaIn June, we launched our Spanish email newsletter, “Sembrando Resiliencia” – which in English tanslates to “sowing resilience” – as part of our effort to build relationships and trust with Spanish-speaking beginning and aspiring farmers. The publication is sent out once every other month – una vez cada dos meses – and aims to share PFI news, plus other farming related information, in Spanish.

To sign up, visit Or if you know someone who would appreciate receiving this, please pass it along!

¿Quieres estar conectado con Agricultores Practicos de Iowa (PFI) y otros recursos agrícolas?

Sembrando Resiliencia, es nuesto nuevo boletín electronico en español. Suscribirse a

Download Our Cover Crops App!

This summer, we released our new Find Cover Crops app, designed to help farmers easily locate cover crop seed, services and suppliers. The app is free to download and use, and is available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Use it to find cover crop seed dealers, seed cleaning and custom spraying services in Iowa and surrounding states; request services from from your phones or computer; access advice; and more. Learn more, or download the app, at the companion website:

Beginning Farmer Winter Series

Getting started farming isn’t easy and many beginning farmers are entering farming at different stages. PFI’s next generation team will be holding workshops this winter to help you make farming easier. Check out the following events to find the one that will help you at the stage of farming you are in now.

Explore Farming Series
October – November | Aspiring farmers should look to the Explore Farming training to take their ideas and vision into reality. This series will help you determine your purpose in farming, what products you want to produce and who the people are to help you make your farm a reality.

Establish Farming Series
November – January | Beginning farmers who have started to farm and are working to build their business plan should attend Establish Farming. This series will lead you through the process of using decision-making to build a farm plan. Between workshops, you will have activities to complete and opportunities to connect with mentors to further your understanding of your farm direction.

Next Generation Summit
February | Are you a farmland owner thinking about the next steps for your land and the legacy you would like to leave? Or are you an aspiring farmer looking for land to begin your farming dream? Then we invite you to join the Next Generation Summit. This event will bring together aspiring farmers and farmland owners in a way that allows for education and networking to help overcome the challenge of farmland access.

Explorando la Agricultura
Octubre | Agricultores aspirantes deben participar en el taller Explorando la Agricultura para hacer realidad sus ideas y su visión. Este taller lo ayudará a determinar su propósito en la agricultura, determinar qué productos deseas a producir y conectarse con personas que pueden ayudarlo a apoyar sus objetivos agrícolas.

Beginning Farmer Retreat
February | If you are starting or thinking about starting a farm, you should plan to attend this annual retreat. Attendees will have the opportunity to network, plan and discuss ways to improve their farms while helping to build a sense of community. In addition, you will hear from other farmers about how they got started and what they have planned for the future. Beginning farmer service providers will be available to share more about the products or services they offer to support new farmers. Dedicated work time will be available for those who want to retreat to focus on planning their farming business. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

Upcoming Events

October 14, 2021
Online 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
October 21, 2021
Online 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
October 22, 2021
1531 74th St., Keystone, IA 52249 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
October 28, 2021
Online 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
November 12, 2021
Story County 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
November 30, 2021
FFA Enrichment Center | 1055 SW Prairie Trail Parkway Ankeny, IA 50023 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM