Outstanding Cover Crop Meetings Coming Up
from Plant Cover Crops

I will be speaking at the CTC meeting in Ada, OH again in 2012. There are many outstanding speakers at both conferences.
There are two tremendous meetings coming up in the next two weeks featuring cover crop information. One is the Midwest Cover Crops Council annual meeting held at the Beck Agricultural Center near West Lafayette, IN. Producers should make a great effort to attend on Wednesday and Thursday if at all possible. The Thursday meeting is the Greater Wabash River RC&D Workshop on Soil Productivity and it promises to be a very good meeting for producers if you cannot make the MCCC meeting on Wednesday.

The other meeting that is coming up on March 6-7 is the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada, OH. This conference has grown tremendously in the past few years as a full day is now dedicated to having meetings on cover crops. If you only want to learn about cover crops then attend Tuesday March 6. However, look at the full agenda and see that there are many more topics that you will probably find very helpful to your farming operation.

I hope to see you at these meetings! Dave

Outstanding Cover Crop Meetings Coming Up.

Did you miss the annual conference in January? Audio recordings and PowerPoint presentations from some conference sessions are now available for download.

Fedele Bauccio, Ron Rosmann, and Laura Krouse at the 2012 PFI Conference.

Fedele Bauccio, Ron Rosmann, and Laura Krouse

Fedele Bauccio, Ron Rosmann, and Laura Krouse at the 2012 PFI Conference.


Tuesday February 21, 2012, a 90-minute farminar was held hosted by Practical Farmers of Iowa. Beginning farmer, Wade Dooley, of Albion, IA led questions to experienced farmer Tom Frantzen of New Hampton, Iowa. 20 others joined in to hear more about extending the rotation, adding more value to the same number of acres of land.

This latest Farminar was focused on adding a small grain crop to a a corn and soybean crop rotation.

  • What markets are best for Iowa small grains?
  • Oats, Barley, and Wheat are typical “small grain” crops, what ones work best on different soils?
  • What equipment is needed to produce and harvest them?
  • Can you improve marginal land with adding a small grain to the rotation on those soils?
  • Can you grow your own seed for your farm?

Tom Frantzen highlighted the importance of small grains in this statement:

If fossil fuels go away, I’m still here, if combines and big tractors go away, I’m still here, but if you remove my small grains, my farm system doesn’t work. That is how important they are to my weed management strategies and alfalfa establishment.

View the complete farminar recording at https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/p8fs4ln0tzi/

Next week, February 28, 2012, Kim Alexander and Garrett Caryl will lead a new Farminar on Pricing Poultry: Eggs, Broilers, and Turkeys. Join us online at 7:00PM CST! practicalfarmers.org/farminar


Supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant # 2010-49400-21843

According to a recent article by Derek Singleton, ERP Analyst, the typical food item travels roughly 5,000 miles before it reaches our plates. He looks at why an increased demand for locally-grown organic foods, a renewed interest in urban living and high gas prices may soon force U.S. food distributors to adopt a more local, regional approach. Ultimately, this would push the U.S. toward a new form of food distribution. Do you agree? Check out the article on his blog: http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/distribution/the-future-of-u-s-food-distribution-1022112/

Did You Miss the 2012 Organic Seed Growers Conference?

Organic Seed Alliance and eOrganic bring you selected recordings from the 2012 Organic Seed Growers Conference held in Port Townsend, WA, on January 19 – 21, 2012. The conference brought together hundreds of farmers, seed production and distribution companies, researchers, plant breeders, pathologists, and university extension in two days of informative presentations, panel discussions, and networking events. The recordings cover the organic plant breeding track of the conference, including:
Introduction to On-Farm Plant Breeding
Organic Wheat Breeding
Breeding Peas, Sweet Corn, Broccoli, Winter Squash and Carrots as part of NOVIC
Organic Corn Breeding
Breeding for Nutrition

The full list of recordings is here.

Kristina Hubbard
Director of Advocacy & Communications
Organic Seed Alliance

(406) 493-6965

Follow us on Facebook & Seed Broadcast

PFI staff were invited to a wonderful meal at our member farmer Gary Guthrie’s home in Nevada on Monday. Last year, Gary initiated a generous new tradition to treat us to lunch after Cooperators’ Meeting.

He prepared the following grand menu, and all the food except for a few items (such as sugar, flour, salt, Parmesan cheese, Picket Fence cream…) came from his farm.

–  French bread (made from scratch!)
–  Gary’s signature Bolero carrot sticks
–  Pesto with basil, garlic, walnuts and Parmesan cheese
–  Peperonata (stewed peppers) with Carmen sweet peppers
–  Roasted leg of lam
–  Black Aztec corn polenta (with some sweet corn)
–  Rhubarb, strawberry and blueberry pie with Picket Fence whipped cream

There is always magic in Gary’s cooking. If you eat at his table, you’ll learn something. But there is no definite or authoritative teaching involved (what “good” food should be, what nutritional values we need to consider, etc.). Rather, because the food is so delicious and it is obvious a lot of thoughts and care were put into each dish, it inspires you to think and imagine. I remember one lunch that I had at Gary’s two summers ago. I was not doing very well that summer to the extent I didn’t have a good appetite (if you know how I’m almost always ready to eat, you know how serious it was). But after eating lunch at Gary’s house, which menu I still remember precisely, I felt a lot healthier physically and mentally. That meal reminded me of the saying that I think all the Japanese people know, “ishoku dogen,” which literally means food and medicine are of the same source.

Where did my mind travel this time after having this great lunch? I remembered how I started to be interested in agriculture because of my love for food and eating. While there are many reasons to work for better agriculture and food system, I think simple pleasure of eating can also play a powerful role. Lunch that Gary prepared for us reminded me once again that food can indeed speak to us.


Hearty lunch plate


“Guthrie portion”


PFI staff with Gary (How can you not smile when your stomach is filled with delicious food?)


PFI farmer Mark Quee gave a wonderful closing to the PFI Cooperators’ Meeting last week. At the meeting, more than 70 farmers met to set their research and demonstration projects for the year.

Said Mark: “As farmers we know the cycles of nature: birth life dormancy and death then birth or resurrection and over again. Cold warming to hot cooling to cold. Resting, hoarding calories, exerting, losing weight.
As Cooperators we have added another element to the cycles that guide us: through cultivation, relationship and reciprocity, we will bend ever so slightly, the shoot toward the light.

“So, with apologies to [4H founder] Jesse Field Shambaugh, I’m going to steal that 4H pledge seemingly embedded in my DNA and adapt it for us today.

“Let’s pledge:
Our Heads to better farming
Our Hearts to better sharing
Our Hands to greater sustainability and
Our health for a better self, a better community, a better state, a better country, and a better planet.”

John Wesselius from Sioux Center, IA along with Dru Montri from Bath, MI led the latest Farminar (February 7, 2012) on how to “Increase your Farmers Market Sales”. 80 live viewers attended to share ideas and ask questions of the farmers.

The farmers recommended the three big things to see greater sales:

  1. Know your current Farmers Market sales and costs
  2. Set Clear Expectations and Goals for your farm
  3. Develop and experiment with strategies and techniques to improve sales Continue reading

Need financing?

Here are two loan opportunities to think about:

  1. Iowa MicroLoans
  2. Iowa Small Business Loan Program (ISB Loan Program)

1. Need a loan but you struggle to get credit from a bank or other lender? Iowa MicroLoans are available with the Iowa Foundation for Microenterprise and Community Vitality based in Boone, Iowa. They are available to all entrepreneurs and offer loans up to $30,000 amortized up to 6 years. This credit can be used for almost anything for your business, including many things that other lenders are more hesitant to finance such as assets that fully depreciate before the end of the loan term.

These loans come with a high interest rate (9.875%), but don’t be scared! Folks who get a microloan can apply for a $500 credit annually for reimbursement of educational expenses (like conferences, software, etc.).

Iowa Microloans, led by President and Senior Loan Administrator, Craig Downs, is the go-to place Continue reading