Published Dec 18, 2023

Applications open for PFI programs that help farmers extend their crop rotations

By Elizabeth Wilhelm
Farmers can earn $20 per acre when adding small grains to their operation

Contact: Elizabeth Wilhelm | Media Relations Coordinator | (515) 232-5661 |

AMES, Iowa (Dec. 18, 2023) — Midwestern farmers thinking of diversifying their rotations with small-grain crops like cereal rye, oats, barley, triticale and wheat can now apply for financial assistance through PFI’s extended rotation cost-share programs.

The programs – which are open to farmers with non-organic acres in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin – help offset the risk of trying new crops or taking nitrogen credits from legume cover crops.

“The small grains cost-share is a great way to try out various legumes and see which one works the best for your operation while staying affordable,” says cost-share participant Tim Dotterer, who farms row crops and cover crop seed in Bloomfield, Iowa.

Small Grains Cost-Share: Farmers can receive $20 per acre for raising a small grain (cereal rye, oats, barley, triticale, wheat) with a legume cover crop. Farmers must grow a small-grain crop that will be harvested (grain or forage) and follow it with a frost-seeded or summer-planted cover crop that contains at least one legume species.

Fertilizer Cost-Share: Farmers who sign up for the small grains cost-share can get an additional $20 per acre for reducing nitrogen on 2024 corn that follows the small grain-legume cover in rotation. With this program, farmers must agree to reduce their nitrogen rate by at least 40 units compared to their rate following soybeans, or apply no more than 100 units of nitrogen to corn harvested in 2024 that follows the small-grain and legume cover crop in rotation.

Jack Smith, a farmer who raises row crops, hay and cattle with his family near Epworth, Iowa, has participated in the cost-shares and describes them as easy to use. “The programs are simple and hassle-free,” he says. “We take pride in knowing our soil is protected to the best of our ability, and are pleased that PFI sees value in helping us. Enrolling is definitely a win-win situation.”

Technical support is also available. PFI staff agronomists work with participants individually to draft a fertilizer reduction plan. Monthly small grains shared learning calls, which give farmers the chance to listen to and talk with other farmers growing small grains, are also organized throughout the year.

“We couple our cost-share program with peer learning to help farmers adopt practices successfully,” says Lydia English, PFI’s senior field crops viability manager. “Practical Farmers has a robust network of farmers with years of experience growing small grains who are happy to help others add these practices to their own farm.”

Enrollment for both cost-share programs is now open and will close July 1, 2024. Full details and the application form are available at

For questions, to check eligibility or for help getting signed up, contact Lydia English at (515) 232-5661 or


About Practical Farmers: Practical Farmers of Iowa is a nonprofit with more than 7,000 members that equips farmers to build resilient farms and communities. We create learning opportunities via farmer-led events, on-farm research and educational content through our robust network of farmers. We also provide funding and technical assistance to help farmers adopt regenerative farming practices and grow farm businesses. Our vision is an Iowa with healthy soil, healthy food, clean air, clean water, resilient farms and vibrant communities. To learn more, visit