In the sessions at this year’s conference, learn how to improve soil; increase crop and market diversity; reduce inputs; increase financial viability; increase investment in conservation; enhance wildlife habitat; and work toward thoughtful farm transfer.



Keynote header

Nicole Masters

How do we continue to farm in an increasingly uncertain world? The answer may lie in the soil under our feet. Join New Zealand agroecologist Nicole Masters for an illuminating look at the interrelationships among soil microbes, structure, plant health and resilience. By fostering healthy soils, we can dramatically increase water-holding capacity, build a buffer against extremes and ensure plants get the nutrition they need, when they need it. All of these benefits directly translate to improvements in our bottom lines.

In this dynamic keynote, Nicole will explain how plants and microbes use a complex set of chemical and electrical signals to communicate and exchange valuable carbon, nutrients and water. We’ll hear how a robust soil structure and a diverse community of soil microbes can reduce temperature fluctuations and even reduce frost damage. We’ll also learn how, just like our own gut microbiome, plants rely on the soil microbiome for health, disease prevention and nutrient density. By the end, you will feel inspired and more connected to that most vital resource: a vibrant, thriving soil ecosystem.

Session headers
Honeyberry (Haskap) Establishment and Production

Bernis and Jim IngvaldsonCCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 275

Though not yet well-known in the U.S., honeyberries (haskaps) are a delicious, early-bearing, cold-hardy berry that grows well in Iowa. Bernis and Jim will discuss the differences among varieties and share the details of how they plant, manage, harvest, pack and market honeyberries. They will also share examples of honeyberry production systems on other farms, and have berry samples for attendees to taste!

Farm Like an Athlete: Physical Strengthening and Maintenance

Matt Scotton (PT, DPT, ATC, LAT, CSCS) | Benton Auditorium

Like an athlete, a healthy body is a vegetable farmer’s most valuable tool! As a physical therapist, athletic trainer, endurance athlete and farm boy, Matt Scotton is passionate about improving people’s health and quality of life. During this interactive session, Matt will discuss musculoskeletal function, proper form and methods to perform and recover through the seasons of the year and the seasons of life.

Carbon Sequestration and Grazing in the Canadian Prairies

Blain Hjertaas | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved Room 167-179

Blain Hjertaas operates a century farm in southeast Saskatchewan, Canada. During this session, learn about the ongoing research into carbon sequestration taking place on Blain’s farm, and hear about his experiences with carbon sequestration and grazing in a rangeland system. Blain will also discuss carbon pricing schemes and carbon markets in Saskatchewan, along with his work as a soil health and regenerative agriculture consultant.

Updates From the STRIPS Project

Omar de Kok-MercadoAlan Lange | Room 240

This session will include an overview of Iowa State University’s Science-based Trials of Row crops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) project, including what prairie strips are and the benefits they provide on the landscape. Staff from the STRIPS project and the Natural Resources Conservation Service will discuss recent policy and cost-share changes related to prairie strips, including 2018 farm bill updates to the Conservation Reserve Program.

Panel: Innovative Ways to Establish Cover Crops

Kellie Blair, David Pieper & Erich WickmanCCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved Room 004

Curious about new and innovative ways to seed your cover crops? From drilling and drone application to spiking cover crop seed with dry fertilizer, this session will cover the many successful techniques crop growers use when planting their cover crops. These knowledgeable panelists will be able to tell you what has worked for them and what hasn’t, highlighting the benefits of each technique.

Transitioning to Organic With Pastured Pigs and Poultry

Kate Mendenhall | Room 250-252

Taking the first step toward organic certification for your farm can be overwhelming, and even more challenging when incorporating livestock. In this session, Kate will share how she began the certification process. She will also cover specifics pertaining to both land and livestock certification, sourcing organic feed and the affordability of maintaining certification.

Faith Gilbert | Room 150-154

Financial management is a powerful tool for realizing your farm dream. Ensuring your holistic farm goals and enterprises align can result in a successful farming business. In this accessible and engaging session, we’ll articulate whole-farm goals and learn to use enterprise budgets to model financial outcomes that achieve those goals.

The Right Mindset for Long-Term Success in Organic Row Crops

Jack Geiger | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved Room 260-262

Have you noticed that how you ask a question can directly affect the answer you receive? As an organic farmer, you manage a very diverse set of interactions – and how you approach this challenge has a direct effect on your success. Jack Geiger believes that a mental paradigm shift is necessary for long-term success with organic farming. Learn why he argues that continuing to pursue agriculture from a reductionist viewpoint will only achieve limited results.

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Integrated Pest Management and Soil Health

John Tooker | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Benton Auditorium

No-till, cover crops and diverse rotations help build soil health, but they can also build populations of arthropod predators that will control pests. Unfortunately, many farmers inadvertently handicap their farm fields by overusing pesticides, particularly insecticides. We will discuss the benefits of using integrated pest management to help protect soil health while managing insect and slug populations by building predator populations.

Mechanical Weed Control and Weed Ecology in Vegetable Production

Sam Hitchcock Tilton | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 260-262

For effective weed management, farmers need an understanding of weed ecology paired with the right tool, at the right time. In this session, you will learn about systems-based strategies for weed control, new and emerging machines on the market, individual tools and implements and best-use strategies for your current equipment.

Lessons in Summer Lettuce Production

Jordan ScheibelJill Beebout | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 250-252

To meet customer demand, Iowa vegetable farmers need to grow lettuce during the hot summer months when lettuce, a cool-season crop, is most difficult to grow. After several years of running summer lettuce variety trials through PFI’s Cooperators’ Program, Jill Beebout and Jordan Scheibel will share the crisp and the bitter of what they learned, how they are growing summer lettuce in their systems and ideas they are considering for the future.

Farming in a Changing Climate

Dennis Todey & Ron Rosmann | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 275

Our changing climate is causing extreme weather events and impacting where and how we can grow various crops. Dennis Todey will talk about climate patterns and what that means for agriculture, including impacts on crops, livestock, diseases, insects and soil. Ron Rosmann will discuss nature-based climate resilience practices he and his family employ on their diversified, organic crop and livestock farm.

Financial Management 102: Building a Whole-Farm Financial Plan

Faith Gilbert  | Room 150-154

Moving beyond a single enterprise, we’ll build lender-ready financial projections for a whole-farm business. Participants can choose from paper or digital workbooks to work on during the session, and take home with them. You will leave with an understanding of how to build a whole-farm budget and cash flow projection.

Building a Custom Grazing Business

Trent Hendricks & Adam Ledvina | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 167-179

Trent and Adam are both custom graziers using small ruminants to manage the landscape. Trent’s a sheep guy and Adam’s a goat guy; both used creativity and hard work to start unique grazing businesses. Learn how custom grazing provides opportunities for beginning farmers to break into agriculture and access land. Hear how these two farmers have made it work for them.

Panel: Outfitting Equipment for Planting Into Cover Crops

Michael Vittetoe, Mike Van Zee, Craig FleishmanRobb Ewoldt | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 004

Planting into cover crop biomass can be intimidating. What equipment do you need? What adjustments should you make to your planter settings? This panel session will help get your questions answered. From row cleaners to adjusting the pressure on your row unit, drag chains to coulters and beyond, four farmers will share their advice for planting into cover crops and how to economically outfit your planter for optimal cash crop establishment.

Wildlife and Habitat at Bobolink Prairie Farms

Nathan Anderson & Adam Janke | Room 240

Join PFI board member and farmer Nathan Anderson and ISU Extension specialist Adam Janke as they tell the story of habitat and wildlife on Nathan’s farm. They’ll start with the history of the farm and what the landscape would have looked like decades ago and end with what Nathan is doing today to provide on-farm habitat.

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Growing Cover Crops in an Organic, No-Till System

Steven Mirsky | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Benton Auditorium

Those growing cover crops in an organic, no-till field crop production system know there are challenges –  but opportunities abound as well. This session will explore how to integrate cover crops in this system. We’ll discuss weed, nutrient and water management, as well as machinery needed to make this system successful.

Broccoli Production

Abby Benson & Ajay Nair | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 275

Broccoli is a customer favorite and market staple, but in the heat or wet weather it can be a troublesome crop! Join Abby and Ajay for an in-depth discussion of broccoli production. They will share their best practices for selecting cultivars and managing pests, diseases and fertility for a consistent, quality crop.

Reducing Yield Variability Through Soil Health

Wayne Fredericks & Jerry Hatfield | Room 167-179

A farm’s profitability depends on many factors – but reducing yield variability is a key component. Mitchell County farmer Wayne Fredericks and plant physiologist Jerry Hatfield will review the extensive on-farm research data they’ve collected on reducing yield variability. Their data shows that improving soil health through cover crops and other conservation practices can have a positive effect on total field yield.

Managing Employees With a Busy Family

Nicole Jonas | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 004

Starting a farm and business is a lot to manage, especially with three kids and off-farm jobs. The Jonases started small, but once they were ready to hire employees the additional labor made them more efficient and the business more enjoyable. During this session, Nicole will share her farm’s strategies and practices for hiring and managing employees, and how these practices have adapted to their growing farm.

The How and Why of On-Farm Pollinator Habitat

Sarah Foltz JordanMark Quee | Room 260-262

Learn the ins and outs of getting habitat installed on your farm, including plant selection, seeding propagation, habitat placement and a variety of weed control strategies. Sarah and Mark will also share a case study of the wildflower and beetle bank planting at Scattergood Farm, including the lessons learned and benefits they’ve seen for wildlife, crop production, farm aesthetics, education opportunities and more.

Synergizing Cover Crops and Herbicide Use

Meaghan Anderson | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 240

Interested in learning more about how herbicides and cover crops can complement each other? Join Meaghan Anderson to learn about recommended rates and types of herbicides you can use to terminate over-wintered cover crops. She will also discuss tips for increasing the efficacy of residual herbicides when sprayed on cover crops, as well as ways to reduce herbicide rates and passes on cover crops.

Resources for Beginning Farmers

Greg Padget | Room 204-208

Getting a start in farming is not easy! Sometimes you need guidance to keep you on track. Greg Padget will start this roundtable by sharing resources and programs available to beginning farmers. These resources are just a start; come ready to share the things you have found helpful and learn about other beginning farmers’ favorite resources.

Mission-Driven Meat: A Local Meat Food Hub Model

Jennifer Curtis | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 250-252

Firsthand Foods is a women-owned food hub that sells local meats from North Carolina farms, connecting chefs and consumers with pasture-raised beef, pork and lamb. Jennifer will share how they built a brand and the challenges around using the whole animal and profitability. She will also discuss how the food hub sources meat from 45 farms and how new markets have been created as a result. Come learn about Jennifer’s mission-driven business model that enables small-scale, pasture-based livestock producers to thrive.

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Lessons From Denmark: Substituting Clover for Soybeans in Pig Rations

Jude Becker | Room 167-179

Consumers are increasingly favoring low-soy diets. Researchers in Denmark are currently examining a way to feed pigs a diet where part of the protein comes from clover instead of traditional protein sources like soybean meal. Jude Becker recently traveled to Denmark and will share what he’s learned about the potential for feeding clover as an alternative protein for pigs.

Retrofitting Old Equipment With New Tech on a Budget

Jaron WilsonJim Poyzer | Room 230

Have you been eyeing a new planter with a monitor capable of more than just flashing lights? Or have you seen the cost of ag technology and said “dream on!”? Come learn if your dreams might actually be on the market at a fraction of the cost. Join Jaron and Jim as they discuss how farmers are developing low-cost, new ag technologies for their existing equipment.

Basic Cover Crop Techniques to Reduce Production Costs

Wayne Fredericks | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 250-252

In this session, north-central Iowa farmer Wayne Fredericks will talk about cutting crop production costs through reduced tillage and cover crops. Learn about better nitrogen placement with his affordable dribble system, plus ways to cut herbicide costs by planting corn green into strip-tilled cover crops.

Practices for Selecting and Breeding Regionally Adapted Vegetable Seed

Erica Kempter | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 260-262

For millennia, farmers have bred crops to suit the grower’s specific environment. Today’s farmers can enjoy the same benefits – and there is an abundance of diversity to save, select and breed from. Erica will review some critical plant biology for different crops, provide seed-saving and seed-breeding examples from her Midwestern farm and offer practical guidance for experimenting with seed-growing and -breeding on farms.

Taking a Flower Farm to the Next Level

Adam and Jennifer O’Neal | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 004

Adam and Jennifer began their farm with a diverse offering of vegetables, livestock and flowers. Drawing back to their passion for growing things that bring people joy, the flowers started to take center stage on their farm. Over the years, they have scaled up their flower operation and added workshops and events. In this session, they will share the successes and lessons learned as they navigated this journey.

Cover Crop Collaboration: Adding the Neighbor’s Livestock

Pete Marshall & Mark Peterson | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 220

Learn how neighbors Mark and Pete teamed up to integrate cattle into multi-species cover crops following small grains harvest. Mark, a row-crop farmer, will speak about the corn yield and soil health benefits he has experienced. Pete, a cattle farmer, will speak about fence, water and cattle management. We’ll hear from both on how they figure the value of the custom-grazed crop and share costs.

Farm Transfer and Diversification: Shepherding in the Next Generation

Blain Hjertaas | Room 150-154

Blain Hjertaas and his son Martin are the third and fourth generations, respectively, to work the family century farm in southeast Saskatchewan, Canada. When Martin returned to the farm, he brought with him the idea of raising sheep in addition to the existing grass-based cattle operation. Hear the Hjertaas’ farm transition story and learn how (and why) they chose sheep as a new enterprise for the next generation.

Unsung Heroes: Meet the Beneficial Insects Doing Good Work on Your Farm

Jennifer HopwoodSarah Nizzi | Room 240

Insects play a key role in our agricultural landscapes. Did you know one individual ground beetle can consume 40 weed seeds per square foot every day? In this session, Sarah and Jennifer will discuss the fascinating biology, ecology and habitat needs of pollinators and beneficial insects. Cost-share opportunities that support insect conservation practices will be addressed, along with a brief overview of on-farm habitat strategies.

Read the Weed

Nicole Masters | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved Benton Auditorium

For people, a “plant growing out of place” is subjectively labeled a weed. For the soil system, however, these plants are valuable repair tools. The weeds you have growing are a direct reflection of your current and historic management and climatic conditions. In this session, Nicole Masters will discuss how weeds can provide valuable clues to nutritional and microbial imbalances. Discover how learning to “read the weed” can help you take power back into your own hands. It’s time to get excited about weeds!

Your Ag Story Matters

Tina Bakehouse | Room 275

We hear stories every day, whether from a family member, a podcast, TV or even live on stage. Stories connect us. In this session, learn some strategies and story structures to help you create a stronger ag story for yourself, your farm or your organization. Collaborate with a partner. Hear other participants share ideas through this hands-on, engaging workshop. Ignite your passion. Inspire the story. Influence the audience. Your story matters!

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Triaging Tomato Issues: Disease, Nutrients and Chemical Damage

Ajay Nair | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 260-262

You walk into your tomato field and, uh oh … Spots, yellowing, drooping or curled foliage, split fruit and rot: Any number of terrible surprises await! During this session, Ajay Nair will discuss how to triage plant issues in your field, what to look for and what questions to answer to help determine if you’re dealing with a disease, insect pest, nutrient issue or chemical problem.

Industrial Hemp: Rules, Regulations and Agronomics

Bryan Parr | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 167-179

The industrial hemp revolution is moving quickly, and good information can be hard to find. Join us to learn about the rules, regulations and agronomics of this exciting new crop. We will learn about the three major types of hemp being grown (CBD, fiber and grain) and how they differ from each other. We will also learn how to plant, harvest and market each type so you can be successful your first year growing this crop.

Marketing Your Uniqueness

Diahann Lohr | Room 275

To sell a product, you need to market it. This means conveying your message and creating value for everyone to see in your farm’s business. Diahann will explain how to create a clear, consistent and compelling brand that will help your farm stand out, build customer loyalty and increase sales. You will then explore ways to leverage that brand through a cost-effective and accessible marketing plan.

Integrating Poultry Into Perennial Crop Systems

Wilber De La Rosa | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credits approved | Room 220

Chickens are versatile and serve as powerhouses in regenerating a farming system. Wilber De La Rosa will share his experience managing a biodiverse system of symbiotically connected livestock and perennials (hazelnuts and elderberries) at Main Street Project in Northfield, Minnesota. Join Wilber as he covers tips and tricks for managing poultry, and the challenges and benefits poultry bring to perennial crops.

Growing Crops 365 Days a Year

Loran Steinlage | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Benton Auditorium

Do you want to learn how to increase the productivity of your operation with intercropping? In this session, Loran will share his intercropping knowledge and explain how he accomplishes his goal of growing a crop every day of the year. He will also share what works best for him and how you can successfully adopt this technique to your operation.

Working Lands Conservation for Wildlife and Water Quality

Mike Sudbrock, Shane Weinberg, Phil Kooima & Troy Davelaar | Room 150-154

On-farm, working lands habitat can benefit wildlife, water quality and agriculture. During this session, biologists from Pheasants Forever / Quail Forever will discuss on-farm habitat and cost-share opportunities. Also hear from landowners Phil Kooima and Mike Sudbrock about challenges faced and lessons learned while implementing wildlife conservation practices, and learn more about services and resources available to farmers and landowners.

Accounting for Manure and Legume N for Corn

Steven Mirsky & Paul Mugge | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 250-252

Knowing how much nitrogen to apply to a corn crop is not always easy. During this session, Steven Mirsky will review the decomposition kinetics of cover crops and how climate, soil and management drive nutrient release. Paul Mugge, who farms in northwest Iowa, will share how he predicts the amount of legume nitrogen he can rely on for this crop production.

Whole-Farm Planning for Landowners

Carole Reichardt & Ron Doetch | Room 204-208

Whole-farm planning looks at the farm through the lens of the watershed where it resides. The process incorporates natural, agricultural and economic resources to reduce risk, maximize profits and improve the land, water and ecological services. Join Carole Reichardt and Ron Doetch to learn about whole-farm planning and how it can be used to meet farm goals.

Packhouses: Planning and Building for the Long-Term

Erik Sessions | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 004

In 2015, after 15 years of dreaming, Erik Sessions built the indoor-outdoor packhouse and hillside root cellar he needed for his farm. Both facilities enhance the farm’s efficiency and overall income, and help maintain the family’s standard of selling high-quality, clean and neatly-packed vegetables. Erik will discuss the design and function of each facility, and how each is used for different crops and processes.

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Panel: Growing and Marketing Non-GMO Grain

Jim Copher, Noah Wendt & Brent Larson | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 004

Growing and marketing non-GMO grain can be a way to spread out risk on the farm. While you might have to think differently about raising your crop, you may also be able to access specialty markets for non-GMO grain. This can be especially important if transitioning to organic. Careful consideration and planning can make the difference between a smooth and challenging experience. In this session, you’ll learn from two farmers raising non-GMO grain and a grain buyer.

Farming in a Collaborative System

Faith Gilbert | Room 275

There is a rich tradition of cooperative and collaborative businesses in the food system. In this session, you will learn to translate your interest in working together into practical steps you can take to set up a group business. We will review the diverse types of collaborative businesses that exist in the U.S. and offer case studies, followed by a breakdown of the structural components that make collaboration function.

Growing and Selling Shiitake Mushrooms

Mike Levine | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Benton Auditorium

With over 20 years of experience in shiitake mushroom production, Mike Levine has experimented with different outdoor production systems and species of edible mushrooms. During this session, learn some of Mike’s preferred cultivation techniques, and his methods for packaging, storing and selling mushrooms.

Policy Discussion Session for Fruit and Vegetable Farmers

Carmen Black | Room 204-208

Join fellow growers in a shared conversation focused on agricultural issues, concerns and ideas related to fruit and vegetable production and farmers in Iowa. Local and state representatives, agency staff and advocacy groups are invited and encouraged to attend and listen in on this farmer-led discussion. The conversation will be facilitated by Carmen Black of Sundog Farm.

Meat Marketing Roundtable With Nick Wallace

Nick Wallace | Room 150-154

Discuss the current state and future of meat markets with Nick Wallace of Wallace Farms. Nick will share his plans to grow Iowa’s niche meat market and wants to hear other farmers’ thoughts on this topic.

Restoring and Enhancing Rare and Declining Habitats on Private Land

Jeff Pudenz & Darrick Weissenfluh | Room 250-252

Join farmer Jeff Pudenz and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Darrick Weissenfluh to learn about strategies for restoring rare and declining species on private working lands. Jeff and Darrick will cover a variety of habitats, including oxbow restorations, in-stream habitat improvements, prairie establishments and fen enhancements. They will also discuss the public-private partnership that made habitat conservation possible on Jeff’s farm.

Planting Corn in 60-Inch Row-Widths for Interseeding Cover Crops

Jack Boyer & Nathan Anderson | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 167-179

Curious about interseeding cover crops to corn in June? Planting corn in wide rows increases the chances of success by letting more sunlight reach the cover crops in the interrows. Seeding cover crops in June allows for a multitude of species and can result in ample forage for fall grazing. In this session, Jack and Nathan will share results of their on-farm research and help you understand the what, why and how of this practice.

Diversified Enterprises on a Dairy Goat Farm

Eric and Diana Smith | Room 260-262

Award-winning goat cheese begins with quality pasture and ends in the dairy. The Smith family credits their success to a mixture of instinct, compassionate animal husbandry and dairy science. Learn how they operate their micro dairy-goat farm, producing high-quality cheeses and natural body care products.

Stress on the Farm: Strategies that Help

David Brown | Room 230

Farming is a dangerous and stressful occupation, especially with so many economic factors not under the producer’s control. In this session, individuals will review the signs of stress, learn strategies to cope with stress, examine ways to help others and review available resources.

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Interseeding Alfalfa or Red Clover Into Corn as Dual-Purpose Cover and Forage Crops

John Grabber | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 167-179

In this session, John Grabber will review work in Wisconsin and other states aimed at developing legume interseeding into corn. Learn about research that has shown how interseeding alfalfa or clover at or shortly after corn planting can help improve the productivity, profitability and stewardship of land used for forage production.

On-Farm Cover Crops Research in Practice

Sam Bennett & Jon Bakehouse | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 004

Since 1987, farmers in Practical Farmers’ Cooperators’ Program have led on-farm research trials to answer their farming questions. Sam and Jon will share their experiences conducting PFI on-farm research, including how it’s done from trial design to data collection. They’ll share results of their trials investigating rye termination dates in soybeans and rye seeding rates and dates. They’ll also discuss what on-farm research has taught them and how they’ve applied it to their operations.

Working With Tenants to Achieve Landowner Goals

Mollie Aronowitz & Carole Reichardt | Room 150-154

Navigating tenant-landowner relationships can be a complex and daunting task. Join Iowa landowner Carole Reichardt and land manager Mollie Aronowitz to discuss landowner-tenant expectations, leasing guidelines, successful management strategies and how they work together to meet Carole’s goals. Carole will share her experiences managing family farms in Iowa and Missouri, and Mollie will discuss the role of Peoples Company as a landowner resource.

From High-Tech to Digging in the Dirt: A Conservation Journey

Blain Hjertaas | Room 230

When Blain Hjertaas started farming over 40 years ago, he was all about the latest and greatest technology. However, after 20 years of farming, he realized that the type of agriculture he was practicing was depleting the land and his finances. Hear about Blain’s transition away from conventional agriculture towards a more sustainable, regenerative model and how he found his passion for soil health, farm profitability and conservation.

Q&A With Nicole Masters

Nicole Masters | Room 260-262

Keynote speaker Nicole Masters will be available for a follow-up Q&A. Bring your questions about soil health!

Fundamentals of Growing Small Grains for Seed

Jordon Grimm | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 220

Prices for seed from small grains are some of the highest in the market for these beneficial – but often hard-to-market – crops. Jordon Grimm is an experienced seed grower who has raised both oats and rye for seed. In this session, Jordon will share the agronomic strategies he uses to grow a high-quality seed crop. He will also discuss the basics of marketing and contracting seed and navigating the certification process.

Ground Covers and Mulches for Weed Control

Rob Faux | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Room 250-252

Paper or plastic? Why limit yourself?! During this session, Rob will discuss the various types of ground covers he uses for weed control in different crops, from landscape fabric to crinkled paper, straw to living covers. He will share some ideas he’s tried that need refinement, pros and cons of different approaches and what he’s interested in trying that hasn’t yet made it to his farm.

Grazing Sheep on Solar Farms

Trent Hendricks | CCAs: 1.0 CEU credit approved | Benton Auditorium

Solar grazing is the practice of grazing animals under solar panels. Trent transports trailer loads of 400 sheep to solar farms in eight states for the dual purpose of managing vegetation while providing forage and shade to his flock. Trent will discuss equipment, transportation, water access and sheep management. We’ll also learn about lease agreements and partnering with solar companies to meet sustainability metrics.

Collaborative Farming Roundtable

Faith Gilbert & Hannah Breckbill | Room 275

Bringing individuals together around a farming business can look very different depending on goals and intentions. With diverse ways of organizing collaborative business, one cookie-cutter method doesn’t fit all. Join this roundtable led by Faith Gilbert, author of “Cooperative Farming,” and Hannah Breckbill of Humble Hands Harvest farm. Hear about methods that work for their farms and ways others have formed their farms.

Roundtable: Crafting the Role of Food Hubs in Iowa

Jason Grimm & Kayla Koether | Room 204-208

How do we grow the market for local food in Iowa? This roundtable session with Jason Grimm, Kayla Koether and food hub managers will share the history and current status of food hub development in Iowa. They will discuss the challenges of local food aggregation and distribution, provide information about how farmers can partner with food hubs and engage the audience as together we consider the next steps to bolster local food markets in Iowa.

Youth Session: Think Like a Native Bee

Room 240

There’s more to bees than just honey and hives. Native solitary bees are essential pollinators that play an important role in producing all kinds of crops throughout the country. Learn about life through the eyes of a native bee and enjoy a hands-on craft that dives into how bees benefit all of us. Great for ages 4 and older.

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Contact Steve Carlson at (515) 232-5661 or