Pre-Conference Short Courses start on Thursday 1-6:30 p.m. Continues Friday 8-11:30 a.m. These short courses run concurrently and have separate registrations.


Silvopasture is the intentional combination of trees, livestock and forages as a multilayered system where each benefits from its relationship to the others, with multiple yields harvested from the same piece of land. In this short course, professionals in this emerging field will share their knowledge and experience with the science and art of silvopasture with cattle, sheep and goats.

What is Silvopasture?

Steve Gabriel

Steve will walk us through the concepts of silvopasture, highlighting the benefits, challenges and priorities of this practice. We’ll discuss planning, design and goal-setting, then explore economics and marketing.

Watch Steve’s Presentation

Converting Woodlands and Pasture to Silvopasture

Keefe Keeley

Keefe will cover both the conversion of woodland to silvopasture and the process of bringing trees into existing pasture. In this session, we’ll discuss interseeding perennial forages into thinned forests, using native forages, tree protection strategies and the challenges of savanna restoration. Keefe will present data collected on Wisconsin farms.

Watch Keefe’s Presentation

Grazing Management and Animal Welfare

Diane Mayerfeld

This presentation will explore livestock behavior and managing grazing in silvopasture systems. Diane will discuss design considerations for balancing animal welfare and environmental impacts. We’ll also talk about shade access and improved welfare that may lead to increased production.

Download Diane’s Slides

Watch Diane’s Presentation

Eating Trees: Tree Fodder for Livestock

Steve Gabriel

Tree fodders offer one of the most promising aspects of silvopasture. Learn about appropriate tree species and management techniques to increase productivity and produce multiple yields.


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Commercial Apple Orcharding

During this short course, commercial apple orchardists from around the Midwest will gather to discuss their experiences, challenges and ideas for their orchards. Presentations from growers will cover topics from orchard design and packhouses, to disease and pest management, to understory care for young trees. The course will also include a session on hard cider production, complete with a tasting of hard ciders from several orchards and cideries. If you’re serious about apples, this course is for you!

Orchard Design

Mike MalikSteve Louis

Whether starting from scratch or expanding an existing orchard, many factors influence orchard design – and it’s important to get it right the first time.

Download Mike’s Slides

Download Mike’s handout

Download Mike’s second handout

Download Steve’s Slides

Watch Mike and Steve’s Presentation

Hard Cider Production and Management

Paul RaschBenji DealDeirdre Birmingham

Three different Iowa hard cider producers will share an overview of how they approach hard cider production, from apple varieties and orchard management to blending. A panel discussion and hard cider tasting will follow.

Download Paul’s Slides

Download Benji’s Slides

Download Benji’s Handout

Download Deirdre’s Slides

Watch Paul, Benji & Deirdre’s Presentation

Packhouse Design

Steve Louis

A late-summer orchard fire destroyed Oakwood Fruit Farm’s 2010 season. A silver lining, however, was that the time off allowed Steve to travel to other orchards during apple harvest, observing their practices and gathering ideas for the re-build of his packing facility. During this session, Steve will share what he learned, what they built and what improvements could still be made.

Download Steve’s Slides

Watch Steve’s presentation

Understory Management

Steve LouisMichael Phillips

While we’re watching the trees, how are the plants and processes on and below the ground affecting our orchard’s success? Steve will share his experience managing the understory and fertility of mature and newly planted orchards. Michael, an expert in holistic orcharding and the soil food web, will share his on-farm practices, which may provide new ideas easily integrated to more conventional orchards.

Download Steve’s Slides

Download Michael’s Slides

Download Michael’s Handout

watch steve and Michael’s presentation

Spray Program

Paul Rasch

Iowa apple growers have to manage a wide variety of pests and diseases in order to minimize damages and maximize harvests. Implementing an effective spray program takes planning and careful monitoring throughout the year. Hear from experienced growers about the management plan and tools they use to ensure a good harvest.

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Watch Paul’s Presentation

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Registration begins at 11 a.m.

Session 1 | 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.

Building a Meat Cooperative From the Ground up

Cody Hopkins

Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative supports pasture-based livestock farms committed to regenerative farming practices. The co-op connects member farms with markets and provides support with animal purchasing, processing, aggregation, distribution and marketing. Hear Cody explain his journey in building this cooperative; he’ll discuss business structure, banding together to produce volume and hiring professionals to add value to the business.

Download Cody’s Slides

Watch Cody’s presentation

Vegetable Seed-Saving as a Business Enterprise

Nathan Corymb

Beth and Nathan’s seed-saving passion led them through Seed Savers Exchange, Sativa Biodynamic Seed (Switzerland), Bingenheim Biodynamic Seed (Germany) and Turtle Tree Biodynamic Seed – which they founded in New York state. During this session, they will discuss what plant-family characteristics should be considered; why population size and isolation are necessary to maintain true-to-type open-pollinated varieties; and how seed-growing can complement CSA, market or processing enterprises.

Download Nathan’s Slides

Watch Nathan’s Presentation

Conduct and Neighborliness in Markets and Product Innovation

Jill Beebout, Jan Libbey, Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri

In an increasingly congested and connected local foods market, where is the line between smart business and stealing business? How do we build allies instead of competition across the street at farmers markets? Join farmers Jan Libbey, Jill Beebout, Tom Ruggieri and Rebecca Graff as they discuss successes and challenges in living these questions, and how both beginning and experienced farmers can approach these questions for their own businesses.

Download Jan’s Slides

[Cancelled] Regenerating Degraded Soils With Cover Crops and Livestock

Darin and Nancy Williams

A diversity of crops and livestock is what helps keep the biology in the soil alive and rejuvenated. Come hear from Kansas farmers Darin and Nancy Williams as they share how they have successfully integrated long-term crop rotations, cover crops and grazing livestock. Learn about their regenerative ag principles, like grazing cover crops, and how they’ve come to conclude that soil organic matter is the key to profitability.

Small Grains Disease Management for Maximum Return on Investment

Dr. Emmanuel Byamukama

Managing a small-grains crop for the quality demands of a food-grade or seed market can be a challenge in Iowa’s humid climate. This session will cover diseases of concern, resources that can help predict and identify disease threats, and management options for small-grains crops such as wheat, oats and barley. This presentation will focus on weighing the return on investment of a fungicide application based on the end use of the grain.

Panel: Fall Cover Crop Seeding Methods

Adam Nechanicky , Jon Bakehouse

Taking cover crops to a larger scale means achieving solid stands planted affordably at a fast pace over 60 percent of Iowa. Learn from farmers Adam Nechanicky and Jon Bakehouse, who have over a decade of combined cover crop experience with multiple seeding methods including: a highboy, a Hiniker seeder, a Kinze 3600 Interplant, a Great Plains drill, a broadcast seeder, a spinner spreader and aerial application at various times during the growing season.

Download Adam’s Slides


Profitable Meat Marketing: Part I

Matt LeRoux

Strategic and specific marketing efforts can help you take full advantage of the market for local meat. In this workshop you will learn how to build sales projections based on the farm’s income goals and market research, select a target market and develop a simple marketing plan to make your job easier.

Download Matt’s Slides

Economics of Organic Dairying

Torray and Erin Wilson, Dr. Larry Tranel

Join dairy specialist Dr. Larry Tranel and farmers Torray and Erin Wilson in a discussion of how to remain profitable with current markets. Larry will speak on the process of how to do (and how not to do) your farm financial analysis. We’ll take a look at what is needed to do a financial analysis, benchmarks and efficiencies necessary to stay profitable. The Wilsons will share financial records and economics behind grass-based organic dairying.

Download the Wilsons’ slides

Download Dr. Tranel’s Slides

Identifying Disease in Vegetable Crops

Dr. Ajay Nair, Dr. Lina Rodriguez-Salamanca

Mildew, blotches, wilting, curling, discoloration – what is going on in our vegetable fields? Join Lina and Ajay for an interactive session that will include discussion of ways to manage vegetable crop diseases and identify herbicide injury. The team will also discuss what we know, and don’t know, about the role of nutrients in disease management.

Download dr. Nair’s slides

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Session 2 | 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Profitable Meat Marketing: Part II

Matt LeRoux

You are selling meat, but are you making money? Learn about the Cornell Meat Price & Yield Calculator. The calculator uses your farm’s data to develop pricing for meat sold by the carcass or by the cut. It accounts for production, processing and marketing costs; lets you build in a profit; then lets you adjust the price of each cut until you reach your goal. We will learn the logic behind price-setting and see a demo of the pricing tool.

Download Matt’s Slides

Download Matt’s Handout

Adding Value to Your Farm

Rebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri

Tom Ruggieri and Rebecca Graff of Fair Share Farm have created a sustainability plan to ensure the longevity of their farm operation. This plan covers the future of their CSA, including scaling it down over time. It also includes strategies to expand their value-added fermented food enterprise. This session will cover their sustainability plan and provide details on how they are expanding fermentation on their farm.

Download Rebecca and Tom’s Slides

Managing a Farm With Diverse Crops and Markets

Scott Thellman

Stacked enterprises add diversity and resilience to a farm’s bottom line. Juniper Hill Farms’ production list spans conventional corn along with winter squash, organic wheat and spinach – plus a local vegetable and hay brokering and distribution business. Learn how all these crops and enterprises fit together. Scott will explain how the skills and implementation tools carry from one crop to others, and you will leave with some ideas for how to diversify your own farm’s offerings.

Download Scott’s slides

Watch Scott’s presentation

Research Updates: Pesticides in Iowa’s Air and Water

Dr. Jenna GibbsDarrin Thompson

Herbicides and insecticides are commonly used in Iowa’s agricultural fields, but little information is gathered about the presence of these chemicals in our air and water. Researchers from the University of Iowa College of Public Health and College of Engineering will share findings from their ongoing research on pesticide drift, herbicides in ambient air and neonicotinoids in surface and groundwater. Discussion will focus on how these chemicals may impact farmers and rural residents.

Starting a Cover Crop Seed Business

Mac EhrhardtDean Sponheim

This session will be a crash course in the basics of starting a cover crop seed business. Mac Ehrhardt of Albert Lea Seed will first discuss seed laws and intellectual property considerations, including licensing and plant variety protection. Dean Sponheim will share how he started a “one-stop shop” for cover crop seeding, including paperwork, contracting seed, equipment and logistics.

Download Mac’s Slides

Download Dean’s Slides

Download the Handout

Watch Mac & Dean’s Presentation

What’s Relay Intercropping and How Does It Pay?

Jason Mauck

What happens when you plant a soybean crop in between twin-row winter wheat? Why would a farmer seed pearl millet at the V3 growth stage into corn planted in 60-inch spacing? Northeast Indiana farmer Jason Mauck will share how-tos and his observations of better weed control, good yields, higher returns per acre and improved hog manure retention. Learn how Jason’s return to his family farm after the death of his father started his journey into “constant-canopy” farming.

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Lessons Learned Over 30 Years at the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial

Dr. Randy Jackson

Established in 1989, the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial addresses tradeoffs and synergies in three cash-grain, three dairy forage and three native-grass cropping systems typical of the Upper Midwest. These systems vary in crop diversity and perenniality, and range from continuous corn, to a three-crop organic rotation, to rotational grazing. Yield trends show benefits to crop rotation, while soil carbon has responded only to perenniality.

Download Dr. Jackson’s Slides

Using Finances to Make Farming Decisions

Laura Frerichs

Now that you have collected all your receipts and tracked your income, what do you do with your records? In this workshop, Laura will help you understand how to use your financial statements to make sound business decisions. You’ll find that using these records will aid you in deciding what you want to grow and sell the next year, what parts of your business to expand or scale back on, which farm investments to prioritize and if you are running an overall efficient operation.

Download Laura’s Handout

Cattle Genetics and Linebreeding

Gene Meitler

Gene will share his knowledge of cattle selection practices and how he learned to linebreed. He will discuss linebreeding for traits that Dr. Jan Bonsma from South Africa taught him – and the profound effect these lessons have had on selection practices that go against mainstream thinking. After 36 years of linebreeding, Gene has developed cattle that grass finish, have excellent fertility and an inbreeding coefficient of 40 percent and above.

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Michael Phillips: Soil Redemption Song

Rousing every grower to think deeper begins with an appreciation for how soil organisms help plants grow. The cooperative relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and the roots of plants is an essential connection underlying crop health. A synergy between fungi and plant roots efficiently delivers nutrients in balanced form from the surrounding soil to plant tissues, reducing the need for fertilizer. Fungi stimulate systemic resistance within roots, boosting “green” immune function and helping keep disease at bay. Expansive fungal mycelia bring resiliency to ecosystems by helping build soil aggregates that provide habitat for organisms to cycle carbon through the system. Yet, for the longest time, we have ignored the basic processes of soil biology and instead disturbed ecosystems at our own peril.

Watch the keynote presentation

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Session 1 | 8:30 – 9:40 a.m.

[Cancelled] Regenerating Degraded Soils With Cover Crops and Livestock

Darin and Nancy Williams

A diversity of crops and livestock is what helps keep the biology in the soil alive and rejuvenated. Come hear from Kansas farmers Darin and Nancy Williams as they share how they have successfully integrated long-term crop rotations, cover crops and grazing livestock. Learn about their regenerative ag principles, like grazing cover crops, and how they’ve come to conclude that soil organic matter is the key to profitability.

Q&A: Cattle Genetics and Linebreeding

Gene Meitler

Continue conversations on linebreeding principles and beef cattle genetics in general. Learn from Gene, who has a lifetime of experience in this industry.

Why IPM Matters: Finding a Balance Between Neonicotinoid Use and Beneficial Insects in Corn and Soybeans

Thelma Heidel-Baker

Integrated pest management is an important strategy for determining if and when neonicotinoid seed treatments in corn and soybeans are warranted. Learn how IPM and insect scouting can help determine when neonicotinoids may be appropriate to use in these crops. You will also learn how adopting IPM supports beneficial insects and improved water quality in Iowa.

Download Thelma’s Slides

Enterprise Budgets for Vegetable Production

Scott Thellman, Emily Fagan

After starting, transplanting, watering, weeding, harvesting, washing, packing and working five hours at the farmers market, you’ve sold some tomatoes for $3 per pound. Did you make any money? Emily and Scott have both done extensive enterprise budgets for the crops on their farms. In this session, they’ll share their enterprise budgets and the processes they used – in the field and on the computer – to find their bottom lines (and improve them!).

Download Emily’s Slides

Download Emily’s Handout

Watch Scott and Emily’s Presentation

Updates From PFI’s Horticulture Program

Liz Kolbe

What does PFI have for fruit and vegetable farmers? Or flower farmers, orchardists, nut growers or any other specialty crop? During this session, Liz will give an update on the horticulture program at Practical Farmers of Iowa. Topics will include farmer-led research (including the Whole Farm Financial Report), recent and upcoming workshops and events, and insights into how PFI horticulture programming is shaped. Conversation, ideas and questions are welcome!

Download Liz’s Slides

Cover Crops for Weed Control in Field Crops

Dr. Anita Dille

Weed suppression is one of the benefits of including cover crops in your crop rotation sequence. Knowing when your weeds of concern emerge, and how they grow, helps inform when cover crops should be seeded and growing, and what crop species should be selected. Field experiments from across Kansas show that we can reduce weed density and weed size using cover crops as a substitute for one or more weed control practices

Watch Anita’s Presentation

The Beginnings of a Farm Transition

Paul Bickford, John and Halee Wepking

When Paul Bickford decided it was time to slow down and retire, he knew he wanted to find someone to continue his farming operation. After placing a Craigslist ad, he was connected to John and Halee Wepking. Together, they have started the process of transitioning the farm. They will share the steps they took at the beginning of this process to start what they hope will be a successful transition.

Download Paul, John and Halee’s slides

Cultivating the Landscape With Biodynamics

Beth and Nathan Corymb

Beholding our landscape and the flow of communities of beings through our farms can inspire business decisions and enliven the Midwest. How do our vegetable plants show their true ability to sustain us through the challenges of our times? Nathan and Beth have been members of 10 intentional farming communities. In developing a new community, they are planting seeds for the future – for “the middle of the turtle’s back.”

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Session 2 | 10:00 – 11:10 a.m.

Nuts and Bolts of Pastured Poultry Production

Cody Hopkins

Cody will share his experience with pastured poultry production at Falling Sky Farm near Leslie, Arkansas. He’ll discuss a range of topics, including infrastructure design and raising poultry in a mobile Prairie Schooner; managing multiple batches of chickens and turkeys; and processing (custom, state and federal).

Eggplant Production

Dr. Ajay NairRebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri

Eggplant. The elusive nightshade sister is often overshadowed by boisterous tomatoes and peppers. When are they ready to harvest? How can you maximize your yield per plant? Join Ajay, Rebecca and Tom for an in-depth discussion of eggplant production as they share the details of their growing methods, favorite varieties and pest pressures.

Download Dr. Nair’s Slides

Installing Prairie Habitat: Starting With Seedlings

Sarah Foltz JordanJon Judson

During this session, Sarah and Jon will discuss how to grow and integrate native plant seedlings, including seed collection and sourcing, plant selection, seedling propagation, habitat placement and weed control. Sarah will also discuss benefits of on-farm habitat for insects and other wildlife. Jon will provide additional insight on site design and long-term management from his extensive experience reconstructing prairies in Iowa.

Download Sarah and Jon’s slides

Organic Equipment and Weed Control for Beginners

Eric MadsenScott Ausborn

When moving from conventional to organic row crops, you must have an effective weed management plan. You should consider historical pest problems, soil management, crop rotation, machinery, markets, weather, and time and labor. Eric and Scott will share how they have adjusted weed control strategies based on weed pressure, and share the practices that have worked for them.

Download Eric’s Slides

Download Scott’s Slides

Watch Eric and Scott’s presentation

No-Till, Manure and Cover Crops on a Dairy and Grain Farm in the Challenging Farm Economy

Dan Meyer

Dan Meyer says the biggest challenge to overcome in order to make no-till and cover crops successful isn’t mastering the management; it’s ignoring those who tell you it won’t work. In this session, he will discuss several soil and crop benefits resulting from adopting no-till, diversified crop rotations and cover crops. Dan will cover planter setup, spray timing, manure application timing, frost-seeding, cover crop mixes and how to accomplish this without breaking the budget.

Managing Seasonal Employees on a Vegetable Farm

Laura Frerichs

Operating a vegetable farm often takes more labor than the farmer can provide. Seasonal employees can help solve this labor shortage – but they also add cost and complexity to the operation. Efficiently managing employees requires organization, time, development of farm systems and excellent communication and people skills. Laura will share how she and her husband manage Loon Organics’ seasonal workers and handful of work-share volunteers. They will also give tips on hiring, interviewing and employee retention.

Download Laura’s Handout

We All Live in a Watershed

Jim ErbKayla Bergman

Water quality issues in the news have prompted farmers, landowners and community members to think about the impact of their land management beyond property and county lines. The first of many watershed management authorities (WMA) was formed in Iowa in 2012 to help coordinate efforts among counties, cities and soil and water conservation districts for local watershed-based planning. Jim Erb will talk about how WMAs operate, and Kayla Bergman will showcase local efforts from Squaw Creek.

Download Jim’s Slides

Download Kayla’s Slides

Q&A With Michael Phillips

Michael Phillips

Keynote speaker Michael Phillips will start this session with a brief dive into additional mycorrhizal teachings that build off his Friday keynote. Practical application of the non-disturbance principle works best when growers understand fungal fundamentals. Most of the session will give attendees the chance to ask Michael follow-up questions about mycorrhizae and how they can create strong mycorrhizal communities in their soils.

Download Michael’s handout

Mushroom Production, Drying and Marketing

Steve Gabriel

Cultivating shiitake outdoors on logs, and oyster mushrooms indoors, can be a fun and profitable addition to your CSA offerings and farm sales. Learn from Steve how to properly cultivate these mushrooms from inoculation to management to sales. He will also discuss marketing both fresh and dried mushrooms, and the potential for profitability at multiple scales.


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Session 3 | 1:00 – 2:10 p.m.

Q&A: Profitable Meat Marketing

Matt LeRoux

With the ever-evolving challenges of marketing pasture-raised livestock, join Matt LeRoux in continuing the discussion from his profitable meat marketing sessions. Bring your follow up questions or ideas on how to take your marketing to the next level.

Economics of Niche Pork

Dr. Kurt Van Hulzen

Pigs used to be considered the mortgage-lifters on the farm. Learn what is needed to profit in niche pork production from Dr. Kurt Van Hulzen. We’ll explore enterprise budgets based on real-world examples, discuss what scale is necessary to make a living and cover production benchmarks to meet economic goals.

Weed Management and Machinery for Vegetable Production

Scott Thellman

Though weed management at Juniper Hill Farms is far from perfect, the farmers there are improving their practices every year, and are open to sharing their journey with other farmers. During this session, Scott will discuss the farm’s weed management systems and practices for organic and conventional vegetable crops; the machinery the farmers like (and don’t like); and specific situations of weed management successes, failures and next steps.

Download Scott’s Slides

Business and Balance at Miss Effie’s Flowers and Garden Stuff

Cathy Lafrenz

Over the last 16 years, Cathy has built a country oasis for her U-pick flower customers while also finding time to manage the farm store (mostly stocked with her own homemade goods and crafts) and host on-farm classes. During this session, Cathy will share her experiences, both successes and challenges, and provide guidance for those interested in running multiple on-farm enterprises.

Download Cathy’s Slides

Interseeding to Increase Wildflower Diversity in CRP and Other Grasslands

Rae PowersSarah Nizzi

Introducing additional wildflower seeds to dense stands of grasses can enhance the diversity of the planting and improve habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. In this session, we will discuss conditions that are appropriate for interseeding wildflower seeds, how to approach a project, examples of how the interseeding process can be accomplished and the importance of ongoing management to maintain wildflower diversity.

Choosing Your Farm’s Legal Structure

Kristine Tidgren

Choosing a legal structure for your business is a task that can feel overwhelming to a small farm or value-added business enterprise. Explore the different options to determine which structure might best fit your farming goals.

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What’s the Soil Missing? Integrated Crop Rotation and Livestock

Trent Sanderson

Northern Illinois farmer Trent Sanderson will share practical advice on renovating and improving crop fields with red clover, winter wheat, strip-tilled corn and no-tilled soybeans with cover crops. Trent will also discuss grazing ruminant livestock on annuals and perennial pastures to leave the soil better, and share how he is reducing his dependence on inputs by farming differently.

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Managing Weed Control in an Organic Crop Rotation

Megan Wallendal

Megan will share her family farm’s experiences with weed management, from roller-crimping rye in the spring for beans to seeding non-vernalized rye in spring into beans – and more. She will cover her family farm’s cultivation techniques, transitional plans and ways the family takes action to reduce weed pressures pre-plant, in-season and post-season. Megan will also share results from research trials she and her family have conducted on their organic ground.

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Watch Megan’s Presentation

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Session 4 | 2:30 – 3:40 p.m.

Wool: Production, Shearing, Processing and Marketing

Regina FrahmEmily Chamelin-Hickman

Wool production can be a profitable enterprise with certain niche markets. In this session, Regina will share herd management techniques and her knowledge of wool processing at mills throughout the Midwest. Emily will teach us how to prepare sheep for shearing, and we’ll explore viable market options for wool products.

Cauliflower Production

T.D. HolubRebecca Graff and Tom Ruggieri

Cauliflower is a long-season crop, susceptible to heat and sun. Can we grow them well in Iowa? Join T.D., Rebecca and Tom for an in-depth discussion of cauliflower production. They will each share the details of how they have produced and stored cauliflower on their farms, their successes and ongoing challenges.

Download T.D.’s Slides

Packhouse Design and Use

Scott Thellman

In the past year, Juniper Hill Farms has expanded from its original 10-by-10-foot CoolBot room and 12-by-4-foot wash room – perfect for a smaller farm – to a much needed 4,000-square-foot packhouse in what used to be a hay and equipment storage barn. The new packhouse features walk-in cold storage and freezers, wash lines and single-phase-to-three-phase inverters (all the good stuff!). Scott will discuss the design and function of both systems during this session.

Download Scott’s Slides

Growing High-Yielding Hybrid Rye and Other Winter Small Grains

Dr. Jochum Wiersma

Interested in growing a winter small grain, but concerned about low yields? Then hybrid rye might be the crop for you. Learn about the agronomy of this winter small grain that yields around 100 bushels per acre on average, and how its management may differ from other winter small grains. The discussion will cover best practices for achieving quality and high yields in winter small grains generally, and in hybrid rye specifically.

Panel: Planting Corn and Soybeans Following a Cover Crop

Trent SandersonBrent LarsonJacob Bolson

What disk-openers should I use? How much down pressure do I need? Should I use trash whippers? What about strip-till versus no-till? When and how are others terminating a cover crop? What if I’m organic and use tillage? These are among the many questions farmers ask when considering planting corn or soybeans following a cover crop. This panel session will address these concerns, as well as planting cash crops into living cover crops and more!

Download Trent’s Slides

Download Brent’s Slides

Encouraging Cover Crops on the Iowa Landscape

Dr. Alison Robertson

Major barriers to introducing cover crops as a conservation practice include the cost of implementation, yield drag and farmers’ lack of knowledge. This presentation will share ongoing research at Iowa State University, and in collaboration with Practical Farmers of Iowa, to identify factors that contribute to yield drag. This data will be used to develop best management practices for including a cover crop in a corn-soybean production system for “hesitant” farmers.

Leaving the Land Better: Measuring Your Impact

Dr. Lisa Schulte MooreLee TesdellKevin Dietzel

Many landowners have a goal to leave the land better than when they got it. Yet, how do you measure what impact you’ve made? Lisa Schulte Moore of ISU’s Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management will share a tool they’ve developed to help landowners balance agricultural production with environmental benefits. Landowner Lee Tesdell will share his use of the tool, and beginning farmer Kevin Dietzel will share thoughts about this issue on his farm.

Download Dr. Schulte Moore’s Slides

Download Lee’s Slides

Cultivating Community

Chris DealAmber Mohr

Many rural Iowa communities are declining, but some continue to innovate and develop. This session will highlight community trends in rural Iowa. Amber Mohr, of Avoca, and Chris Deal, of Jefferson, will talk about how efforts in their communities are unfolding and succeeding. You will participate in a brainstorming session to generate revitalization ideas that you can take home to your community.

Download Chris’s Slides

Download Amber’s Slides

Download the Handout

Mechanical Weed Control

Nelson Smith

Learn how timeliness, the right equipment and crop rotation are keys to successful mechanical weed control. Nelson will discuss the when and why of his sequence of field equipment passes, from seedbed prep to seeding, hoeing and tine weeding to cultivation. He’ll also share why he prefers the tine weeder over a rotary hoe, and how tine weeding and mechanical cultivation can complement each other for effective weed control.


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Session 5 | 4:00 – 5:10 p.m.

Grazing Cover Crops for Profit

Meghan Filbert

Cover crops have value as livestock feed – but how much value? On-farm research shows that cover crops can offset the cost of winter feed and put money back into farmers’ pockets. Meghan will share best management practices to maximize the economic value of cover crops, and introduce a decision-making tool developed by Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa State University to help analyze the forage value of cover crops.

Download Meghan’s Slides

Storage Onion Production

Dan FilliusKate Edwards

Onions can be a diverse storage crop that creates loyal customers. Onions can also be frustratingly weedy and susceptible to disease. Join Kate Edwards and Dan Fillius for an in-depth discussion of onion production, and hear how they produce and store onions on their farms.

Download Dan’s Slides

Download Kate’s Slides

Watch Dan and Kate’s Presentation

Shoot! Making Better Photos for Your Farm

Darcy Maulsby

Wish you could take better photos for your social media sites and farm marketing materials? Darcy has felt the same way about her own photos. She has learned from years of photojournalism that you don’t take great photos; you make them. In this session, complete with plenty of visual inspiration, Darcy will offer field-tested tips guaranteed to make you a better photographer (even with a cell phone camera!).

Download Darcy’s Slides

Hiring Contract, H2A and Migrant Farm Labor

Melissa GarciaEric FranzenburgJavier Nevarez

For many farms, migrant and seasonal farm workers are an essential labor force. During this session, Javier will share his experience with running a farm labor contract business. Eric will discuss the process of hiring and housing H2A workers on his farm. Melissa will provide an overview of the rules and regulations specific to Iowa. This session will be relevant for field crop, fruit, vegetable and livestock farmers.

Using Science and On-Farm Research to Investigate Cover Crops in Iowa

Dr. Stefan Gailans

Since 2008, Practical Farmers of Iowa and its partners in the Iowa Cover Crop Working Group have conducted on-farm cover crop research across the state. Projects have addressed species selection, seeding methods, effects on cash crop yield and soil health indicators, and the economic value of cover crops. This session will recap what’s been done and what is on the horizon for on-farm cover crop research.

Download Dr. gailan’s Slides

Landowners: Prioritizing Conservation on Rented Ground

Ruth RabinowitzMaggie McQuown

Fifty-three percent of Iowa farmland is rented to non-owner operators. Conservation is just as important for the long-term viability of this land as it is for land owned by farmer-operators. Learn how two non-operator owners have made conservation a priority. Ruth and Maggie will discuss their farmland priorities; how these priorities are reflected in their leases; progress they have made to date; and future plans to further their goals.

Download Ruth’s Slides

Download Maggie’s Slides

Watch Ruth and Maggie’s Presentation

Cultivating Civility

Jeff Kluever

Recent studies show that Americans believe our culture is uncivil. In this session, you will learn the importance of establishing connections, how to rephrase attack statements and how to seek understanding and common ground. Civility will only expand when individuals commit to improving their own actions and words, and this session will teach applicable civility strategies.

Download Jeff’s Handout

Down on the Farm: Navigating the New Farm Crisis

Charlie Griffin

The current downturn in the farm economy threatens to be as difficult, if not more so, than the one in the 80’s. The toll on farmers, ranchers and families in agriculture is high. This presentation will take a look at lessons for coping with stress, maintaining our focus on family and personal well being, communication, and decision making.


Contact Maggie Norton at (515) 232-5661, or

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