Practical Farmers of Iowa announces 2019 winter farminar series

Practical Farmers of Iowa will continue its online learning series – called “farminars” – for the 10th winter season in a row beginning Jan. 8 with a presentation on adding prairie strips to farmland. The webinar series features practical knowledge shared by farmers and experts on a wide range of topics for row crop, livestock and fruit and vegetable growers.

Held every Tuesday at 7 p.m. CST, each farminar focuses on a unique production or business management topic. All presentations are led by an experienced farmer or subject-matter expert, and attendees are able to ask questions in real time using a chat box while they listen and watch a slideshow. The presentations are free for anyone with an internet connection.

Some farminars feature a single farmer or farm couple presenting, while others feature a beginning farmer paired with an expert. For instance, the Feb. 5 presentation, “No-Till Vegetable Production,” is led by experienced farmers Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser, who will speak about their no-till vegetable operation based in Sonoma County, California. Elizabeth and Paul will share details on their field preparation, crop rotation, nursery management, nutrient cycle management and hedgerows, along with the pest and climactic benefits of these approaches.

The following week’s farminar on Feb. 12 will explore a similar topic presented in the second format where a beginning farmer and an expert have a back-and-forth exchange. The farminar, “Ridge-Till Vegetable Production,” will be led by both beginning farmer Jordan Scheibel, and researcher Brian Caldwell from Cornell University. Jordan will share his plans to change the tillage system he uses on his farm near Grinnell, and Brian will share the findings from Cornell University’s Reduced Tillage Organic Vegetables Project and offer specific advice for Jordan’s farm. Jordan and the farminar attendees will be able to ask questions of Brian about ridge-till and other conservation tillage systems for vegetable production.

“My hope is that implementing ridge tillage can help me address long-standing issues on my farm, which have been exacerbated by recent changes in the climate,” explained Jordan. “I’m excited to have someone like Brian who has actually experimented with using ridge tillage for vegetables to help evaluate the viability of my approach and give me feedback.”

Other topics featured in the winter farminar series include installing prairie strips for row crops systems; a trio of grazing topics that include pastured pigs, infrastructure for rotational grazing and technology to help with regenerative grazing; precision-seeded cover crops; and planning for farmland succession.

To participate, visit the PFI website. A schedule for all upcoming farminars – as well as the recordings for 159 past farminars – is also available at this link.

Practical Farmers’ 2019 winter farminars are made possible with funding from the Cedar Tree Foundation; Ceres Trust; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; McKnight Foundation; and the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Conservation Collaboration Grant and Rural Business Development Grants.

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 http://practicalfarmers.org.

2019 WINTER FARMINAR LINE-UP
Jan. 8 – “Installing and Maintaining Prairie Strips” – Tim Youngquist, Seth Watkins
Research has shown that by converting just 10 percent of a crop field to diverse native perennials, farmers and farmland owners can reduce the amount of soil leaving their fields by 90 percent and the amount of nitrogen leaving their fields through surface runoff by up to 85 percent. The Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS) project is working to demonstrate these benefits to landowners. Two members of the STRIPS team will share how to establish and maintain prairie strips on farmland, from both the technician and farmer perspectives.
· Tim Youngquist is the farmer liaison for Iowa State University’s STRIPS project, where he helps farmers and landowners around the state design, install and maintain prairie strips. Tim grew up on a century farm near Kiron, which he is now helping to manage with the goal of keeping the land productive and healthy.
· Seth Watkins runs his family’s heritage farm near Clarinda, where they have a cow-calf enterprise and raise hay and corn for feed. Seth has implemented a wide variety of conservation practices on the farm, and is a participant in ISU’s STRIPS project.

Jan. 15 – “Diversifying Rations for Pastured Pigs” – John Arbuckle
How can farmers reduce the amount of grain fed to their pigs? John Arbuckle conducted on-farm trials in northern Missouri that he hopes will show farmers the potential of reducing grain rations and grazing pigs on forage. During his trials, he fed pastured pigs different grain-rationed diets to evaluate their costs and benefits, and will share his findings in this farminar.
· John Arbuckle and his wife, Holly, raise non-GMO, pasture-based pigs using regenerative practices at Singing Prairie Farms, now located in New Castle, Maine. Rotational grazing on permanent pastures is the foundation for their ecological agriculture system. From their farm, John and his family manage and operate their pork snack stick company, Roam Snack Sticks, LLC.

Jan. 22 – “Electric Fence and Stock Water Systems for Permanent or Temporary Pasture” – Galen Gerrish
Whether you are grazing 1 acre or 10,000, modern electric fencing and stock watering systems have given producers the flexibility to take their livestock to the most unusual of places – and these systems contribute to a growing trend of not owning any land at all. Additionally, grazing as a restorative land service is becoming more popular. Mobile infrastructure lets imaginative graziers reap profits while contributing to ecological restoration. In this farminar, explore the electric fence and stock water systems used to manage forage resources in these arrangements.
· Galen Gerrish grew up learning about pasture and livestock on the Gerrish farm in Missouri, where the family took a worn-out, marginal crop farm and converted it to a highly productive grass farm. As part of handling product sales for Idaho-based American GrazingLands Services LLC, Galen regularly provides advice on grazing cell design, product use and selection.

Jan. 29 – “Regenerative Grazing Technology” – Erin Kiley, Andy Welch
Managing pasture and herd health in a rotational grazing system requires detailed data collection and an organized management system to use and interpret that data. In recent years, new technology has become available to help graziers with this. Erin Kiley will discuss what information graziers should be tracking, and how the app PastureMap is addressing these needs. Grazier Andy Welch will join Erin to share his limited experience with PastureMap and learn from Erin how it can benefit his operation.
· Erin Kiley oversees rancher success with PastureMap, an online livestock management and grazing software program. She is also the holistic planning and livestock manager at Farmland LP.
· Andy Welch operates Welch Family Farms in Grant City, Missouri, where he practices rotational grazing with the goal of regenerating his land to better handle weather extremes. Andy started rotationally grazing in 1995, and currently grazes year-round, moving his 65 cows on a daily basis.

Feb. 5 – “No-Till Vegetable Production” – Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser
Intensive, agroecological, no-till food production systems have dramatic functional benefits for our ecology, natural resources and communities. Elizabeth and Paul will discuss how they have implemented an intensive, no-till, hand-labor vegetable production system that is profitable while restoring soil carbon, soil biology and macro-ecology on their farm. Some of the topics they’ll cover include field preparation, crop rotation, nursery management, nutrient cycle management and hedgerows, as well as the pest and climactic benefits of these approaches.
· Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser own and operate Singing Frogs Farm, a no-till, ecologically beneficial, intensive vegetable farm in Sonoma County, California. Since launching the farm in 2007, the Kaisers have more than quadrupled the organic matter in their soil using regenerative farming techniques. They frequently share their farming knowledge and experience with other producers through workshops, farm tours and conferences.

Feb. 12 – “Ridge-Till Vegetable Production” – Brian Caldwell, Jordan Scheibel
Ridge tillage is a system used mainly in row crop production that allows for some cultivation while reducing soil erosion and improving soil quality. Beds are shaped into elevated ridges, and only the tops of the ridges are cultivated prior to planting. Many vegetable producers, such as Middle Way Farm’s Jordan Scheibel, want to gain the soil-building benefits of this conservation tillage practice on their farms. The complexity of a diverse vegetable farm, however, presents some challenges to using this type of tillage. Brian Caldwell managed a Cornell research project that trialed ridge-till systems for organic vegetable production. He will share with Jordan the best practices for adopting a conservation tillage system on his farm.
· Jordan Scheibel runs Middle Way Farm just north of Grinnell on the Lacina family farm. 2018 was his sixth growing season as a solo farmer, and his third year farming full-time. Middle Way Farm grows about 2 acres of chemical-free vegetables sold primarily through Community Supported Agriculture shares and farmers markets from May through November.
· Brian Caldwell is a researcher with Cornell University’s Reduced Tillage Organic Vegetables Project, and a former extension educator. Brian has been a partner in Hemlock Grove Farm growing certified organic fruit and vegetables since 1986.

Feb. 19 – “Precision-Seeded Cover Crops” – Jon Bakehouse, Michael Vittetoe
As cover crops are more widely adopted, many farmers are experimenting with planting methods to make the most use of their time and resources. Jon Bakehouse has experimented with special plates that let him use his planter to seed cereal rye on 15- and 30-inch rows. Michael Vittetoe has been experimenting with seeding cereal rye on 8-inch twin rows on 30-inch centers using a drill. Both farmers will share their thoughts on these seeding methods and what they plan to do in the future.
· Jon Bakehouse and his wife, Tina, raise corn, soybeans, small grains, hay and a small cow-calf herd with Jon’s parents as the fifth generation on their family’s land in Hastings. They have been using cover crops and conducting on-farm research for more than five years.
· Michael Vittetoe is part of a multi-generation family farm in Washington County raising corn, soybeans and hogs. They practice no-till, plant cover crops and participate in on-farm research to improve their practices and be good stewards of the land.

Feb. 26 – “Proper Planning for Farmland Succession” – Andrew Behnkendorf, Stephen and Crystal Riggins
Farmland transfer can be a stressful and difficult process without proper consideration and planning. Though every situation is different, early planning and communication in any transfer case can help solve problems before they arise. Join this farminar to hear from a professional planner about what issues need to be considered, and from Stephen and Crystal Riggins about their experience transferring their farm from the previous generation and to the next.
· Andrew Behnkendorf is an investment advisor representative with Central Financial Group, where he works with an array of small business, family farms and individuals to guide them through the many questions of business succession and personal goals. He is a second-generation advisor following in the footsteps of his father, who has been helping families and businesses with succession planning since 1979.
· Stephen and Crystal Riggins are starting a pasture-based cow-calf operation on their family farmland near Cambridge. They have a plan for transferring the farm ownership from Stephen’s mother, and are beginning to think about a plan for when they will transfer ownership to their children.

PRESENTERS BY COMMUNITY
Ames, Iowa - Jan. 8: Tim Youngquist is the farmer liason for Iowa State University’s STRIPS project.
Cambridge, Iowa - Feb. 26: Stephen and Crystal Riggins are starting a cow-calf operation on their family farmland and are beginning to think about a succession plan for their children.
Clarinda, Iowa - Jan. 8: Seth Watkins runs his family’s heritage farm where they implement a wide variety of conservation practices, including prairie strips.
Grinnell, Iowa - Feb. 12: Jordan Scheibel runs Middle Way Farm growing vegetables for Community Supported Agriculture shares and local farmers markets.
Hastings, Iowa - Feb. 19: Jon Bakehouse raises corn, soybeans, small grains, hay and a cow-calf herd while conducting on-farm cover crop research.
Johnston, Iowa - Feb. 26: Andrew Behnkendorf is an investment advisor with experience working with small businesses, family farms and individuals on succession plans.
Washington, Iowa - Feb. 19: Michael Vittetoe raises no-till corn, soybeans and hogs while conducting on-farm cover crop research.
Columbia, Missouri - Jan. 29: Erin Kiley oversees rancher success with PastureMap, an online livestock management and grazing software program.
Grant City, Missouri - Jan. 29: Andy Welch operates Welch Family Farms where rotationally grazes year-round, moving his cows on a daily basis.
Ithaca, New York - Feb. 12: Brian Caldwell is a researcher with Cornell University’s Reduced Tillage Organic Vegetables Project and a partner in Hemlock Grove Farm growing certified organic fruit and vegetables.
May, Idaho - Jan. 22: Galen Gerrish advices graziers across the country on electric fence and stock water systems for a wide range of circumstances.
New Castle, Maine - Jan. 15: John Arbuckle raises non-GMO, pasture-based pigs at Singing Prairie Farms using regenerative practices.
Sebastopol, California - Feb. 5: Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser own and operate Singing Frogs Farm where they practice no-till, ecologically beneficial intensive vegetable production.

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