Register now for the Midwest Covers and Grains Conference on March 4!
2022 Annual Conference
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Shifting Market Models at a Large Vegetable Farm
Hans & Katie Bishop
Hans and Katie Bishop are part of PrairiErth Farms near Atlanta, Illinois, where their 300-acre farm is a mix of vegetables, organic grains and dairy pasture. Headed into their 13th year of farming, the Bishops have dramatically resized their crop mix, land apportionment and labor requirements to maximize profitability and efficiency. Learn about the changes they have made and what they’ve learned.
Nitrogen Management in a Soil Health System
Eric & Frank Rademacher
As nitrogen prices rise, this nutrient can make or break your bottom line. Eric and Frank Rademacher have aggressively managed nitrogen in their extensive cover cropping system. Learn how they use a nitrogen mineralization map for variable-rate application and a Y drop for precision. They’ll share insights on microbial nitrogen fertilizers and their recent trials on heavy legume covers ahead of corn and beans. Hear why soil quality and nitrogen management go hand in hand.
How to Diversify Your Farm Without Overextending Yourself
Adding diversity to your farming operation can offer sustainability and variety, but adding more can mean doing more. From her years of experience, Anna will share how you can add new agritourism enterprises to your farm and still set boundaries with your time, space and energy. She will share tips for getting clear on your goals, designing a plan, streamlining your processes and finding your marketing style to effectively share what you do.
Annual Business Meeting, Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award & Keynote Address
The Past, Present & Future Iowa landscape: Studying the Horizon by Laura Jackson
Iowa is full of clues about its past. Pioneer cemeteries, Indigenous languages and landmarks, old maps, agricultural statistics and many other sources tell a story of major ecosystem changes in the past 150 years. PFI’s vision is an Iowa with healthy soil and food, clean air and water, resilient farms and vibrant communities. Those working in ecological restoration – and others who care about creating landscapes where people, wildlife and nature can thrive – have similar concerns, aspirations and struggles.
In this keynote, restoration biologist Laura Jackson will explore this rich past, the story it tells about the Iowa of today – and how together, even in face of climate change, we can move towards a common horizon in an ecosystem that will provide joy and sustenance to future generations.
Unique Meat Distribution Economies
Jason Mauck & Zack Smith
Jason Mauck, of Munsee Meats, believes farmers need to build their own economies to drive the local foods movement. Jason will focus on the full-circle story of combining tradition with innovation from the farm to the fork to create a self-sustaining economy that is resilient and can attract consumers. Learn about recent innovations on the farm, like Zack Smith’s stock cropping, and hear about unique distribution options, like automated self-serve meat lockers.
Carbon and Ecosystem Service Markets: What Farmers Should Consider
Carbon and ecosystem services markets offer an opportunity for farmers to access alternative revenue streams for conservation on farms. As these markets proliferate, however, there are many options and few rules. Join Alejandro Plastina to learn more about key differences between markets and potential pitfalls that farmers and landowners – especially graziers and early adopters – should consider when making decisions about whether to engage with carbon or ecosystem services markets.
Cathy Lafrenz, Levi Lyle, Maja and Carmen Black, Phrakhounmany “Air” Philavanh
Storytelling is back! Following lunch on Saturday, all conference attendees will come together to hear true stories, from a selection of PFI farmers. If you enjoy bending your ear toward a lively, soberingly powerful or particularly well-narrated farmer tale, this storytelling is just for you.
Corn and Covers: To Plant Green or Not to Plant Green
Andy Linder & Will Cannon
Are you considering planting corn into a living cover? Experienced green-planters Andy Linder and Will Cannon will share their ideal scenarios for cover crop growth and weather patterns when planting green. Hear strategies to set up favorable conditions by using less aggressive cover crops or prioritizing early corn planting. Finally, learn techniques – such as strip-tilling or applying nitrogen at planting – to successfully manage less-than-ideal scenarios.
Pollinator Conservation for Homesteads and Backyard Gardens
Every action we take, big or small, can impact pollinators and other beneficial insects. Acreages and backyards offer excellent opportunities for providing critical pollinator habitat. In this session, Sarah Nizzi will discuss ways to conserve pollinators in your backyard regardless of size or space. She’ll address habitat layout and design, plant selection, installation and management.
Virtual Fence: A Solution for Graziers, Animals, and Soil?
Oscar Bernsten & Monte Bottens
Oscar Bernsten, joining virtually from Norway, will discuss Nofence virtual fence technology. Nofence consists of a solar-powered collar and mobile app that graziers use to draw their digital fence on a map. This technology lets animals easily access new, healthy pastures while decreasing the grazier’s workload. Hear from Monte Bottens, a grazier in Illinois who uses Nofence. Can this technology be the next best step for farmers, animals and the soil?