Field Crop Production Handbook offers valuable insight for Iowa growers

This new publication provides a basic understanding of the major crops grown in Iowa

Growing successful field crops is a science, one that is learned and improved upon with years of experience. But sometimes it just makes sense to start with the basics. That’s the approach of a new publication from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach called the Field Crop Production Handbook.

This 144-page handbook provides a general overview of the essential aspects of producing field crops in Iowa. It focuses on the basics of crop establishment, but also on care and harvest, as well as the impacts on soil, water and wildlife.

“The handbook is useful for people who are new to agriculture or may be joining the family farm and want to get reacquainted with some of the basics of crop production,” said Erin Hodgson, professor and extension specialist in entomology at Iowa State University.

Sixteen chapters cover the most common field crops grown in Iowa, including corn and soybean, but also small grains and forages. Each chapter includes a glossary of terms and additional resources, if producers want to learn more.

The printed copy available for purchase through Iowa State University Extension includes glossy pages with pictures and graphics. The publication is also available digitally on the Iowa State University Extension Store and can be downloaded for a fee.

“There is a lot of practical information in the handbook to help get people up to speed and refresh their knowledge,” said Mark Licht, assistant professor in agronomy and cropping systems specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach.

The handbook is also useful for high school and college ag programs, where students and teachers may be looking for a basic primer that covers crop production. Licht said it was an enjoyable project that included input from a diverse group of faculty and staff at Iowa State. The publication is written and organized in a way that is intended to be accessible to those with or without a farming background, and to audiences not traditionally associated with agriculture.

The primary authors of the publication were Erin Hodgson and Mark Licht, along with Adam Sisson, extension specialist for the Integrated Pest Management program at Iowa State University.

For more information, Hodgson can be reached at 515-294-2847 or Licht can be reached at 515-294-0877 or Sisson is available at