Practical "Farminars" of Iowa
What's a Farminar?
Practical Farmers of Iowa offers FREE 90-minute, interactive online seminars on a wide variety of farming topics. Broadcast over the Internet, Farminars are held Tuesdays from 7–8:30 pm CST. Check out our current lineup below. Register today to hear about the latest learning opportunities by email.
Go to http://connect.extension.iastate.edu/farminar
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2014 Winter Farminar Line-up
Jan. 14 – “Planning Your Diverse Crop and Livestock Farm Business” – Erin Wilson and Al Brudelie
Hear farmers share their experiences creating and using the essential farm business plan, and learn to use FINPACK, software that can help crunch the numbers.
- Erin Wilson grew up on an organic, grass-based dairy in northeast Iowa and moved to a farm near Paullina, Iowa, after marrying Torray Wilson, a farmer who grew up on a diverse family farm. Erin and Torray run a flock of 200 ewes with lambs, custom-graze beef cattle and operate a new grass-based organic dairy. They also farm with Torray's parents, Dan and Lorna, who raise pigs, poultry and organic corn, soybeans, small grains and hay.
- Al Brudelie farms corn and soybeans in southwestern Minnesota near the town of Lewisville. A former Dean of Management Education with the Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Al enjoys working with other farmers on business planning. He is skilled in the use of FINPACK, the financial planning and analysis software designed by The Center for Farm Financial Management in St. Paul, Minn.
Feb. 4 – “Outwitting Weed Resistance on a Cash Grain Farm” – Bill Buman and Bob Hartzler
Resistance is futile…when farmers are armed with weed ecology knowledge, small grains, steel and fresh weed management ideas. Learn about the latest weed resistance research, and practical strategies you can use to stay a step ahead.
- Bill Buman grows corn, soybeans and prairie seed near Harlan, Iowa. He has been monitoring resistant weeds in his fields for several years and has begun a small trial of wheat to extend his rotation as another method to help manage weed populations.
- Bob Hartzer, extension weed specialist and agronomy professor at Iowa State University (ISU), promotes the adoption of integrated weed management programs for corn and soybeans. He shares his research with the public at outreach events and via the ISU Weed Science webpage.
Feb. 11 – “Growing Better Potatoes and Carrots on a Few Acres” – Noah Engel and Jason Jones
Learn production techniques to help you achieve success growing organic potatoes and carrots at the 1- to 4-acre scale.
- Noah Engel grew up on a 120 head organic dairy farm in southwest Wisconsin. When he was 9, he and his older brother, Josh, started growing potatoes for fresh market sales. Now, 20 years later, he runs Driftless Organics, a 115-acre vegetable, fruit and small grain farm with the help of Josh and business partner Mike Lind.
- Jason Jones and his wife, Erin Drinnin, live in Des Moines. Jason has worked for 10 years on three different fruit and vegetable farms. He currently runs his own business, Wilted Leaf Farm, in central Iowa and aspires to someday grow up to 50 acres of vegetables on his farm.
Feb. 18 – “Making Niche Pork Work for You at Any Scale” – Ethan Book, Kate Edwards & Philip Kramer
Iowa farmers have fattened hogs on abundant grain from their farms for generations, and opportunities abound for direct-to-consumer and wholesale niche pork. Hear how other farmers have made niche pork work for them, explore how you can get started and learn about new growth opportunities in niche pork production.
- Beginning livestock farmers Ethan and Becca Book bought a 40-acre farm in the rolling hills of Marion County near Knoxville, Iowa, where they started grazing livestock and finishing hogs raised outside. They currently have 12 cow-calf pairs, about 40 hair sheep and poultry. They direct-market about 100 head of Hereford hogs each year to families in central Iowa under their own “Crooked Gap Farm” brand, selling by the cut as well as whole and half animals.
- Kate Edwards is a beginning farmer in her fourth year of farming who operates Wild Woods Farm near Solon, Iowa. Her primary market is a vegetable CSA with more than 100 members. A participant in Practical Farmers’ Savings Incentive Program, Kate plans to incrementally increase the amount of land in cultivation to serve her expanding customer base. She also wants to add new enterprises to her farm, including hogs, and is curious about the knowledge and planning needed to successfully fit hogs into her existing farm.
- Philip Kramer grew up on a northwest Iowa farm that farrow-to-finished about 75 sows and grew 300 acres of corn, soybeans, alfalfa and oats. His family farm was one of the first in Iowa to market with Niman Ranch Pork Division. Phil lives near Algona, Iowa, where he works for Niman Ranch as regional field agent and helps recruit more farmers to its production and marketing system. Phil also has a beginning farm of his own where he currently manages about 15 sows and gilts, all the Hereford breed.
Feb. 25 – “Pesticide Drift: Response and Compensation” – Rob Faux
Consider this scenario: your farm is subjected to chemical drift from a neighbor's application to their property adjacent to your land. What steps do you follow once this happens? Learn how an organic vegetable and livestock farm has responded (and continues responding) to pesticide drift.
- Rob and Tammy Faux formed the Genuine Faux Farm, located near Tripoli, Iowa, in 2004. Their farm business focuses on a 120-member produce CSA and includes poultry, starter plants and fruit production. A recent misapplication of pesticides for a neighboring farm has left them dealing with the aftermath on their certified organic vegetable farm. After several reports to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and insurance claims, they are now pursuing litigation.
Mar. 4 – “Budgeting for Success: Adding a New Generation to a Row-Crop and Livestock Farm” – Erwin and Wendy Johnson
Want to ensure you stay profitable on a cash grain and livestock farm? Learn when, why and how to do farm budgets from a farm that has been successful for generations – and is in the process of adding a new generation to the family farm business.
- Erwin Johnson and his daughter and farm business partner, Wendy, operate Center View Farms Co., a crop and livestock farm near Charles City, Iowa, that has been in the family for four generations. They will share what they do on their farm on an annual, biannual and quarterly basis to ensure they are profitable. In addition to using spreadsheets from ISU Extension’s Ag Decision Maker, Erwin and Wendy use FINPACK, the bookkeeping and financial decision-making software. They will discuss how they work with these tools, as well as the cost of production and how they make their marketing plans.
- Wendy Johnson grew up near Charles City on the family farm managed by her father Erwin, the third generation to run the farm. In 2010, she returned home to learn the farming trade and continue as the fourth generation to manage the farm. She and her husband, Johnny Rafkin, have taken on responsibilities that include sheep flock management and marketing the farm’s hay. Wendy also helps with all the duties related to the corn and soybean enterprises. In addition to learning conventional methods from her father, she is exploring transitioning some acres to organic row crops and using cover crops on all the farm’s acres.
March 11 – “Land Access – Leases to Support Conservation and Beginning Farmers” – Meg and Dave Schmidt, and Ed Cox
Explore legal issues pertinent to beginning farmers, including farm succession, the transition of land and assets to the next generation, custom grazing legal questions and writing farm leases.
- Meg Schmidt started working with beef cattle in 2010 on the family farm near Exira, Iowa. Dave also began about the same time on the other side of the state. Their paths crossed at a Practical Farmers livestock field day. Together, they aim to build their farm – Troublesome Creek Cattle Company – into a profitable, multi-species livestock grazing enterprise. To achieve this they feel they need to know more about some of the legal issues common to many beginning farmers, from farm succession to land lease law, as well as the particular legal concerns of custom grazing leases.
- Ed Cox began his fellowship with the Drake Agricultural Law Center in 2010. He is a 2009 graduate of Drake University Law School, with a Certificate in Food and Agricultural Law. His work includes developing landowner resources, such as “Sustainable Farm Lease,” and working with beginning and veteran farmers.
2013 Fall Farminar Line-up
- Nov. 5 – “Crop Insurance by Written Agreement for Apple Orchards in Iowa” – Phil Larabee
Learn the timelines to report and apply for insurance, and the recordkeeping and other requirements to gain crop loss protection.
- Phil Larabee’s mother-in-law, Diane Gravert, owns Gravert's Apple Basket Orchard near Sabula, Iowa, which is managed by Phil’s wife, Laura. The orchard lost 100 percent of its crop in 2005, and more than 50 percent in 2006, both due to late-spring freezes. Phil saw a need for risk management and applied his skills as a licensed insurance agent to successfully insure the orchard’s apple crop, which has been insured since 2009. While apples are federally insurable in the U.S., coverage is not available in Iowa – but Phil obtained insurance by Written Agreement, a USDA Risk Management Agency document designed to provide crop insurance for insurable crops when coverage or rates are unavailable.
- Nov. 12 – “Efficient Crop Marketing and Distribution of Local Foods” – Ellen Walsh-Rosmann and John Lash
Ready to explore a new distribution business to help increase efficiency and amount of local food available in nearby communities? Learn from an established local food distributor now entering its seventh year, hear an Iowa beginning farmer’s vision for her food distribution company, and then listen as the two discuss considerations when creating a local food delivery business.
- Ellen Walsh-Rosmann of Pin Oak Place, near Harlan, Iowa grows fresh vegetables and manages an organic egg-laying poultry flock with her family. She recently gained access to a delivery truck to distribute products to restaurants and select grocery stores in the Omaha area.
- Since 2007, John Lash’s company, Farm to Table, has helped distribute locally grown vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs and cheeses to restaurants, grocery stores and institutional clients. Starting with a few dozen customers, Farm to Table now serves more than 500 in Austin, San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country with farm products from 18 local farms.
- Nov. 19 – “Transplant Production Improvement Considerations” – Chris Blanchard
Explore systems to keep your transplants happy (even in the heat of summer) so they are ready to grow in top condition.
- Chris Blanchard owns Rock Spring Farm near Decorah, and provides education and outreach about systems and tools for farmers to succeed in agriculture, business and life through Flying Rutabaga Works.
- Dec. 3 – “Revenue Projections and Profit Potential of Grass-Based Livestock” – Ryan Herman and Neal and Laura Vellema
Listen in as an experienced livestock farmer shares his insight with beginning graziers.
- Ryan Herman has grazed livestock as his business with his father, Gene, for just over 10 years in the hills of the Mississippi River Valley of northeast Iowa. Now on his own, he has around 190 cow-calf pairs. He retains the calves to put on grass as yearlings, selling a few of them as grass-finished. He also has a flock of hair sheep. The Hermans have not raised hay since 2005, relying instead on stockpiled pasture and purchased hay. Ryan’s farm recordkeeping and grazing planning are exemplary heavily influenced by Holistic Management trainings.
- Neal and Laura Vellema raise pastured beef near Harris, Iowa. While Neal works full-time on his parents’ dairy farm, he and Laura have started raising their own steers on pasture. Future goals include farming full-time on their own dairy, or raising mixed livestock and potentially some vegetables.
- Dec. 10 – “Building Relationships, Building Customers” – Jordan Clasen and Jody Bolluyt
Relationship-building can be a powerful marketing tool. Hear from two farms of different scales about how they focus on building relationships with customers to be successful.
- Jordan Clasen operates Grade A Gardens in Johnston, which supplies the Des Moines area with certified organic gourmet garlic and fresh vegetables, including onions, shallots, leeks, kale, carrots and potatoes. In 2012 he expanded production on 10 rented, certified organic acres to service wholesale and retail customers, including a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) market.
- Since 2000, Jody Bolluyt has worked as a farmer at Roxbury Farm, a 300-acre diverse community-supported farm near Kinderhook, N.Y. that grows vegetables, herbs and grass-fed pork, lamb and beef for more than 1,200 families. Jody grew up in Adel, Iowa, and has family who farm near Yale, Iowa. During her time at Roxbury Farm, she has focused farm sales on CSA shares, dropping wholesale customers and foregoing sales at farmers markets.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
FARMINAR - "Managing cover crops"
Many farmers planted cover crops on prevented planting acres this season and now have questions about managing those acres this fall and winter. Other farmers are considering planting cover crops for the first time this fall and have questions about species selection, timing, spring management and more.
Practical Farmers of Iowa will address these and other cover crop questions in a free online seminar, or “farminar,” on Thursday, Sept. 19, from 1-2:30 p.m. Farmers, agronomists, certified crop advisors, landowners and others who have questions about cover crops or managing them on prevented planting acres are invited and encouraged to attend. To participate, go to http://connect.extension.iastate.edu/farminar.
Certified crop advisors who view the farminar will earn 1.5 hours of soil and water management CEUs. To receive credit if attending live, sign into the farminar with your last name and six-digit CCA number, typed without spaces (e.g., “Smith123456”). If watching the archived version, contact Joan O’Brien with Agribusiness Association of Iowa at
or (515) 262-8323 by 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27.
The farminar will be archived and viewable on Practical Farmers’ website, but will not be available for CCA credits after Sept. 27. Topics covered will include recommendations for managing cover crops on prevented planting acres; standard fall and spring cover crop management; and a general overview of cover crops, including current science, research and management recommendations. The farminar will also leave ample time for audience questions. Speakers on the farminar will include:
- Bob Lynch, a farmer near Gilmore City, who will discuss his experience with prevented planting and how he is managing cover crops on prevent planting acres, including letting winter kill the crop instead of glyphosate.
- Mark Peterson, who farms near Stanton, who will discuss his plan for managing cover crops next spring.
- Tom Kaspar, research agronomist with the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, will discuss the basics of working with cover crops, from selection and general management considerations to current research on cover crops and soil health.
SPECIAL June Farminar
FARMINAR - "Cover crop options for prevented planting acres in Iowa"
This spring has presented challenging conditions for farmers hoping to plant corn and soybeans in Iowa and across much of the Midwest. Also, cover crops have become a popular choice for farmers looking to enhance soil health, improve soil structure, prevent erosion and reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loss on their farms. But many questions remain about which cover crop varieties to select and the practical management questions farmers must consider for all scenarios. Practical Farmers of Iowa along with the Agribusiness Association of Iowa/Iowa Certified Crop Advisers, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship invite you to learn and ask questions about how cover crops can successfully fit into prevented planting acres this year.
To participate in the farminar go to: http://connect.extension.iastate.edu/farminar Click "Enter as a Guest" and type in your first and last name. Click "Enter Room"
Note for Certified Crop Advisors
If watching live: to receive CCA soil and water credits sign into the farminar using your last name followed by your 6-digit CCA number. Ex: Carlson123456.
If watching archived version: to receive CCA soil and water credits contact Joan O'Brien at [email protected] or 515.262.8323 by 5pm Monday, June 24 to receive credit.
*Farminar will be archived on the Practical Farmers of Iowa website but will not be available for CCA credits after 5pm Monday, June 24.
- Welcome and Introductions. Luke Gran, Practical Farmers of Iowa Next Generation Coordinator
- Certified Crop Advisor Credits. Jim Frederick, Iowa Certified Crop Advisers
- Conservation Practices + Prevent Plant = Nutrient Reduction Strategy Benefits. Jim Gillespie, Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship
- Crop Insurance Rules for Prevented Planting and Cover Crops. Kevin Erickson, Risk Management Authority
- Why use cover crops on prevented planting acres? Barb Stewart, State Agronomist, Natural Resources Conservation Service
- Herbicide considerations when adding cover crops. Dr. Bob Hartzler, Iowa State University
- Cover Crop Scenarios and Resources. Sarah Carlson, Practical Farmers of Iowa
- Question and Answer
2013 Spring Farminar Lineup
March 19 - Cover Crop Decision-Making Tools
Just getting started with cover crops or want to hone your cover crop selections? Learn more about two online tools, the SmartMix (cover crop) Calculator, developed by Green Cover Seed of Bladen, NE and the Cover Crop Selector Tool developed by the Iowa Cover Crop Working Group in Ames, IA. Both resources are available online for farmers and landowners to improve their cover crop decision-making.
- David Ausberger, rowcrop and cover crop farmer from central Iowa;
- Keith Berns, farmer and owner of Green Cover Seed in Bladen, Neb.; and
- Sarah Carlson, research and policy director for Practical Farmers of Iowa, will demonstrate these tools, explain how they originated and ways to use them.
March 26 - Network with other PFI Beginning Farmer Trainees and Trainers
Beginners, learn how to be an excellent employee and learn the most on the job this summer. Farmer employers, hear how farmers make time for a better learning experience for employees.
- Julia Slocum, of Lacewing Acres in Ames, is starting her first year of raising vegetables on her own. Previously, she spent two years working on farms in the Midwest to explore her interests and learn new skills.
- Jill Beebout, of Blue Gate Farm near Chariton, has employed seasonal workers for seven years. She has hired a range of people, from teenagers working their first job to people interested in eventually starting their own farms.
April 2 - How to Hire Farm Laborers, By the Books
Have you thought about hiring farm employees but feel confused or unsure where to start? This farminar is for you.
Learn from two farmers about their experiences hiring farm laborers across the spectrum, from H-2A visa holders and migrant seasonal contractor crews, to regular part-time workers and full-time employees. Listen in as the farmers ask questions of experts from each regulatory agency that Iowa farmers will need to work with in order to be legally compliant farm employers.
- Jeanne Hansen, of Hansen Dairy in Hudson, employs people as part of the farm operation, processing facility and three retail locations.
- Ben Saunders of Wabi Sabi Farm, an organic fruit and vegetable CSA farm near Granger, hires seasonal full-time employees, part-time employees and short-term contract crews, and works with volunteers on his farm.
Labor Regulation Experts
- Michael Staebell - U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division
- Dave Eklund - Iowa Workforce Development
- Karen Pfab - Wage and Child Labor, Division of Labor Services
- Marco Adasme - State Monitor Advocate, Iowa Workforce Development