Published Feb 2, 2023

Midwest Covers & Grains Conference will explore successful farming with small grains and cover crops – March 2, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

By Tamsyn Jones


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

AMES, Iowa (Feb. 2, 2023) — Registration is open for Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Midwest Covers & Grains Conference, which will take place Thursday, March 2, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center (7725 Kirkwood Blvd SW) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Formerly two separate events (PFI’s small grains conference and cover crop boot camp), the new combined conference brings together farmers, supply chain buyers and researchers from across the Midwest to promote successful farming with extended rotations and cover crops.

Attendees will have a chance to network with small grains and cover crop buyers and sellers, and the event will have sessions for cover crop beginners and experienced practitioners. PFI’s Midwestern small grains network extends across five states, including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.

The cost is free for PFI members, or $40 for non-members. Registration is required and includes a continental breakfast and lunch. Pre-registration ends on Feb. 22. After that, walk-ins are welcome unless the venue is at capacity. Register online or call (515) 232-5661.

Conference schedule: The conference opens at 8 a.m. with breakfast, followed by two plenary sessions from 9-11:15 a.m. In the first, “Owning and Operating a Cover Crop Seed Business in Iowa,” Dean Sponheim, of Sponheim Seeds and Services, will share how his cover crop seed business got started and what those interested in selling cover crop seed should know.

In the second plenary, “Small Grains Growth and Development: Harnessing This Knowledge for Improved Management,” forage agronomist Margaret Smith, of Albert Lea Seed, will share agronomic essentials about small grains that can help improve farmers’ chances of successfully growing them.

After lunch and networking time, two blocks of breakout sessions will follow until 3:15 p.m. The conference will conclude with closing remarks from 3:30-4 p.m.

Full conference details, including the list of sessions and speakers, are available at For questions, contact Taylor Hintch at (515) 232-5661 or

The 2023 Midwest Covers & Grains Conference is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under agreement number NR213A750013G024.


About Practical Farmers: 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