2017 Winter Farminar Line-up

Featured topics span a wide range of farming enterprises, and are geared toward beginning and established farmers alike. The interactive format allows attendees to listen in and ask questions using a chatbox.  Each farminar is recorded and archived for later viewing.

The 2017 winter farminar series begins January 17 and runs each Tuesday, from 7-8:30 p.m. CST, through March 14.

In addition to the Tuesday evening farminar series, two additional presentations are planned for 12:00 p.m. CST on Friday, March 10 and Friday, March 17. This is a two-part series on perennial fruit and nut production.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2017 winter farminars are made possible with funding from the Ceres Trust, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Division of Soil Conservation, Specialty Crop Block Grant and Water Quality Initiative; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; McKnight Foundation; National Fish and Wildlife Association; Natural Resources Conservation Service; and the USDA’s Risk Management Agency.

Jan. 17 – “Mobile Poultry Processing in Iowa” – Amber Schulte, Travis Schulte

Amber and Mary Schulte of Norway, Iowa, started a mobile poultry processing business in 2015 in response to the decline of processing options in the state. Tune in to hear them explain the  services they offer farmers, the rules and regulations they’ve dealt with, their mobile set-up and how they plan to grow their business. They’ll also discuss how much the mobile unit cost, and what they charge per bird. Travis Schulte, Amber’s brother, is raising chickens this year that will be processed in the mobile unit. Travis will be on the line to ask Amber and Mary a series of questions that are typical from farmers who inquire about mobile processing.

  • Amber Schulte grew up in Norway, Iowa, on her family’s dairy farm. On the farm – and through experiences with 4-H and FFA – she learned how to handle animals safely, which gave her a solid background to start her processing business. In 2015, she launched Schwell Chicks, an on-farm mobile poultry processing business.
  • Travis Schulte grew up loving life on the farm and left to pursue a career in the electrical field. He is now getting back to farm life. He plans to raise a poultry flock this year and hire his sister Amber’s mobile processing business.

Jan. 24 – “Risk Management for a Diversified Farm” – Andy Dunham, Craig Christianson

Environmental and market variables can have a major impact on whether a farm business can be profitable. These variables are often beyond farmers’ control, but can be mitigated through crop insurance. Unfortunately, diversified fruit and vegetable growers have traditionally had few insurance options, and have had to find alternative risk-mitigation strategies. Tune in to hear one diversified farm’s holistic approach to risk management. A USDA risk management specialist will then offer insights on the insurance product Whole Farm Revenue Protection.

  • Andrew and Melissa Dunham own and operate Grinnell Heritage Farm in Grinnell, Iowa, which has been in their family since 1857. They serve the Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Grinnell and Des Moines areas through CSA, select grocery stores and farmers markets. The diversified farm is certified organic by MOSA, the Midwest Organic Services Association.
  • Craig Christianson is a risk management specialist with the USDA Risk Management Agency in St. Paul, Minnesota, specializing in Whole Farm Revenue Protection. Prior to working with the RMA, Craig worked with the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service for eight years.

January 31 – “Effective Mentor Relationships” – Denise O’Brien, Ali Clark and Scott Yahnke

Through our work with beginning farmers at Practical Farmers of Iowa, we’ve learned how beneficial having a mentor can be for those getting started. Learning from someone else’s triumphs and failures can save new farmers many seasons of trial and error, giving them a greater chance for success. This farminar will feature experienced farmer and mentor Denise O’Brien and beginning farmers Ali Clark and Scott Yahnke, who have formed a mentor relationship throughout the past year. Hear tips for both beginning and experienced farmers on how to form an effective mentor relationship.

  • Denise O’Brien and her husband, Larry Harris, own and operate Rolling Acres Farm, a certified organic CSA and wholesale farm north of Atlantic, Iowa. They have been farming for 40 years and currently raise fruits, vegetables, chickens and turkeys. Denise is co-founder of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, and has served as a farming mentor for WFAN and PFI for many years.
  • Scott Yahnke and Ali Clark together manage Little Mountain Farm in Honey Creek, Iowa, which they started in 2016 on rented land to grow fresh organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, plant starts and flowers. Ali and Scott hope to eventually farm on owned or long-term leased land, have a farm store and grow their other seasonal business, Snowshoe Candy Co.

February 7 – “Grassfed Meat Production Using Multi-Species Grazing and Free-Choice Minerals” – David Carbaugh, Derek Lawson

David Carbaugh, of Nobel Pastures Farm in Red Oak will team up with Derek Lawson, cattleman at Foxhollow Farm in Kentucky, to discuss pasture and animal management. David and Derek met at a Holistic Management International training program and Derek has served as a mentor to David ever since. Tune in to hear David ask Derek questions about pasture mixes, grazing strategies, mineral supplementation, biodynamic pasture preparations and marketing grass-fed beef.

  • David and Leslie Carbaugh established Noble Pastures near Red Oak, Iowa, in 2013 where they produce 100 percent grass-fed beef and lamb, as well as organically fed free-range chickens and eggs. Their beef is Certified Naturally Grown and Certified Humanely Raised and Handled, and they use Holistic Management practices.
  • Derek Lawson is the head heardsman at Foxhollow Farm in Crestwood, Kentucky, where he rotationally grazes approximately 300 cattle over 700 acres of certified biodynamic pastures. Derek works to breed cows that are suited to their land, Kentucky’s climate and to eating grass.

February 14 – “Harvesting, Storing and Feeding Rye to Cattle” – Jim Larsen, Pat Jones

Jim Larson, of Sioux Rapids plants a rye cover crop ahead of soybeans, then makes ryelage to feed to his beef cattle. Whenever Jim has harvesting questions, he contacts Pat Jones, a dairy farmer in Spencer, Iowa, who plants rye ahead of corn and has been making ryelage for 15 years. Tune in to hear Jim and Pat discuss their methods for harvesting, storing and feeding ryelage to both beef and dairy cattle.

  • Jim and Marcia Larson have been farming and running a cow herd for 46 years near Sioux Rapids, Iowa. Their primary enterprise is selling bulls from a purebred Angus herd. They have been planting rye and harvesting it for feed the cattle for five years and have practiced management-intensive grazing for close to 40 years.
  • Patrick and Nancy Jones, along with three of their adult children, operate a 1,000-cow dairy northeast of Spencer, Iowa. They raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa along with cover crops. Cover crop forage has been part of their feeding program since 2000.

February 21 – “More Opportunities for Cover Crops” – Jon Bakehouse, Steve McGrew

If you’re looking for innovative ways to get more from your cover crops, why not learn from others’ successes and failures? Two southwest Iowa farmers will share their experiences pursuing the next frontier of cover crops on their farms. Jon Bakehouse will discuss how he has been trying to better accommodate fall-seeded cover crops by using early-maturing varieties of corn and soybeans. Steve McGrew will talk about another way to create opportunities for cover crops: seeding in the early spring ahead of soybeans.

  • Jon Bakehouse farms on his family farm near Hastings, Iowa, where they raise corn, soybeans, cattle and chickens. They started practicing no-till in 1998 and have been planting cover crops and finding different ways to build soil health.
  • Steve McGrew and his brothers grow corn and soybeans near Emerson, Iowa. They started using no-till in 1981 and have been experimenting with cover crops off and on since 1993. They have experimented with different types of cover crop systems, including limited success using a cereal rye relay crop in front of soybeans.

February 28 – “Diversifying Your Crop Rotation With Small Grains” – Earl Canfield

Earl Canfield has spent the last two years relearning how to grow small grains in Iowa. He has researched machinery, production strategies, varieties and more. He and his family are working on how to best grow small grains while also seeking potential market streams. One market opportunity includes direct-marketing small grains to small-scale livestock owners as either whole grains or as part of complete mixed feeds.

  • Earl Canfield farms with his wife, Jane, and their four children near Dunkerton, Iowa. Their children represent the sixth generation of the Canfield family to be on the land since the mid-1860s, for which they received a Heritage Farm Award at the Iowa State Fair in 2016. The Canfields are making a transition from growing strictly corn and soybeans to growing and direct-marketing a diverse mixture of coarse grain, small grains, forage, and vegetable and flower crops.

March 7 – “Variety Selection for Vegetable Production” – Rob Faux

For Rob Faux, winter is the season for what he humorously calls “farmer delusional syndrome.” Fields do not have weeds, projects take half the time and pictures in the seed catalogues tempt farmers to grow every new variety available in the coming growing season. When reality sets in, vegetable growers realize their winter planning decisions need to be based on data collected from their farm that reflects their soil, weather patterns and growing practices. Join Rob Faux in a farminar where he shares some of the data he collects and how it informs vegetable variety planning on his farm.

  • Rob Faux and his wife, Tammy, own and operate Genuine Faux Farm, a vegetable CSA and poultry operation near Tripoli, Iowa. Rob has been conducting on-farm research for eight years and regularly uses this data to inform production decisions.

March 10* – “Pest and Disease Management for Organic Apple Production” – Maury Wills

NOTE: This farminar will be held at noon CST on Friday rather than the usual Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.

Managing pests and diseases in a Midwest apple orchard can be tricky, and even moreso for organic systems. A range of preventive approaches needs to be included in an orchard management plan in order to minimize damages and maximize harvests. Maury Wills will draw from over 20 years of experience with disease and pest management in a certified organic apple orchard.

  • Maury Wills owns and operates Wills Family Orchard near Adel, Iowa, with 5 acres of certified organic apple trees. He is also the bureau chief and organic program manager for the Ag Diversification and Market Development Bureau at the Iowa Department of Agriculture.

March 14 – “Investor and Farmer Partnerships” – David Miller, Andy Ambriole

More and more people are looking to invest in farms that are improving the environment and communities. What are those investors looking for? As a farmer, how do you figure out if working with individual investors or companies is the right fit? How can you make sure you are “investor-ready”? Join David Miller, co-founder and CEO of Iroquois Valley Farms, and Andy Ambriole, a certified organic grain farmer in Indiana and a farmer working with Iroquois Valley Farms to expand his operation.

  • Dave Miller started Iroquois Valley Farms LLC in 2007, after a 30-year career in banking and real estate financial management. His extensive experience in structuring alternative real estate investments led to the formation of Iroquois Valley Farms, the first private company in the United States to integrate farmland and organic food production, using mostly mid-size family farmers.
  • Andy Ambriole farms 1,200 acres organically in north-central and northeastern Indiana. He actively uses cover crops and operates a custom cover crop application, fertilizer and seed business. Along with corn, soybeans and small grains, he also grows organic greenhouse tomatoes. Andy serves as a supervisor at his county soil and water conservation district, and is on the board of managers for Iroquois Valley Farms.

March 17* – “Challenges and Opportunities with Hazelnuts” – Jeff Jensen, Norm Erickson

NOTE: This farminar will be held at noon CST on Friday rather than the usual Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.

Hazelnuts are an excellent perennial crop option for various agroforestry practices. Not only do they provide multiple landscape benefits, they produce tasty and nutritious nuts. Opportunities are growing for farmers to establish hazelnuts on their farms – but there are challenges as well. Join Iowa Nut Growers Association president and hazelnut grower Jeff Jensen, and Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation member and grower Norm Erickson, to learn more about the challenges and opportunities in hazelnut production.

  • Jeff Jensen works with Trees Forever as program manager for its Working Watersheds: Buffers and Beyond program in Iowa, and as the field coordinator for northwestern Iowa. He has a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and has worked in the field of sustainable agriculture for several years. Jeff is also active with the Iowa Nut Growers Association, Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation and Upper Midwest Hazelnut Development Initiative. He grows and markets hazelnuts from his family farm near Fenton, Iowa, in northern Kossuth County.
  • Norm Erickson, in partnership with his wife Mary, have been growing hazelnuts for more than a decade. A self-described “tinkerer,” Norm has designed and developed various pieces of hazelnut processing equipment and continually makes improvements to increase efficiency and reduce labor. Norm and Mary produce and market a line of high-end cosmetic hazelnut oil. They live and grow in Lake City, Minnesota, and are founding members of the Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation.

*These two farminars will be held at 12:00 p.m. noon CST, rather than the usual Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m.

To participate: Go to practicalfarmers.org/farminars, click the “Join in” button and sign in as a “Guest.”

For more information about farminars or if you are having trouble logging in, please contact: Steve Carlson at [email protected].