Register for Biological Monitoring with Holistic Management Course – May 31, near Cresco

For Release: May 9, 2014

AMES, Iowa — Managing land is an ongoing process for farmers and landowners. But sometimes it can be hard to tell if a change in management is effective or in line with goals. This is where Holistic Management can help. Holistic Management ( presents a whole-farm planning framework that incorporates farmer and family principles into realistic management decisions based on quality of life, profitability and stewardship goals. It also teaches specific techniques to measure and monitor land health and productivity.

Learn about these techniques and gain first-hand experience applying them during a one-day training organized by Practical Farmers of Iowa and Land Stewardship Project. The course, “Biological Monitoring with Holistic Management,” will take place on Saturday, May 31, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the farm of Mike Natvig near Cresco in northeastern Iowa. Pre-registration is required to attend. Please pre-register by Friday, May 23. Location details and directions will be provided to course registrants.

The cost is $75 for the first person, with discounts for each additional person from the same farm or family or those who have attended a previous course in the HM series. The fee covers snacks, lunch and any materials. The course is the last of four held this winter and spring as part of a regional HM workshop series. Active and aspiring farmers, landowners and others interested in learning about healthy land management are encouraged to attend. No prior Holistic Management experience is necessary.

A registration form to print and return by mail is available at, or contact Margaret Dunn with Practical Farmers at or (515) 232-5661, or Caroline van Schaik with Land Stewardship Project at or (507) 523-3366. The course is sponsored by Blue River Hybrids, Growth Products, Howard County Soil and Water Conservation District, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative.

Participants will get to learn and practice:

  • how to indentify signs of healthy soil, plant and animal systems
  • key biological monitoring principles and practices related to soil fertility
  • how production practices influence soil fertility
  • different techniques to monitor and measure their land’s health on a regular basis
  • a simple approach to diagnosing issues based on monitoring and management practices

Ralph Tate, a certified Holistic Management instructor, will lead the course. Ralph teaches holistic grazing management classes around the Midwest, and also developed software to ease the planning portion of the system. He custom-grazes heifers on his farm near Beatrice, Neb.

Mike Natvig runs a 420-acre certified organic crop and livestock farm. He grazes beef cattle and grows an organic corn, soybean and small-grain mixture called succotash. He also maintains hayfields and pastures alongside native prairie, oak savanna and woodland.

Land Stewardship Project and Practical Farmers of Iowa are membership organizations with a mission to improve food and farming systems so that communities and the land are ecologically, financially and socially strong. These Holistic Management courses are supported in part by funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the McKnight Foundation.


Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit


Margaret Dunn | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

Caroline van Schaik | Land Stewardship Project | (507) 523-3366 |