Learn how cover crops, rotations and livestock can improve soil health at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day – Aug. 26, near Hastings

For Release: August 13, 2014

HASTINGS, Iowa — For row-crop and livestock farmer Jon Bakehouse, feeding his farm’s soil is just as important as feeding his crop. “One of my main mantras has become ‘feed the soil to feed the crop,’” says Jon, who has a small cow-calf operation and raises corn, soybeans and alfalfa at Maple Edge Farm with his wife, Tina, and family. “Take care of the soil and it will take care of you.”

Soil health will take center stage at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day the Bakehouses are hosting on Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., near Hastings. Maple Edge Farm is located at 55755 370th St. (which is also County Road M16), about 4.5 miles northeast of town. The event – “Soil Stewardship with Cover Crops, Rotations and Grazing” – is free to attend and will include lunch. The field day is sponsored by Green Cover Seed.

Attendees will learn about the numerous conservation measures at Maple Edge Farm, from diverse crop rotations to cover crops to management-intensive grazing. Jon will discuss early-maturing corn and soybeans and how they might help get more acres covered every year, as well as practical crop rotations to successfully implement cover crops. Guests will also get to view a soil pit, discuss soil health issues and hear results of the Haney soil test, which the Bakehouses recently had done. Additional speakers include Rick Bednarek, state soil scientist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Jay Crom, an independent soil consultant.

“Cover crops have changed my way of thinking about production agriculture,” Jon says. “My thinking has shifted from yield to soil, and how healthy yields will follow healthy soil. We hope to provide an atmosphere of support and learning that will invigorate our guests to reexamine their farming practices within the context of soil, air and water health – both locally and downstream – and the general health of our society.”

Maple Edge Farm is a family farm, farmsteaded in the 1880s by Jon’s great-great grandfather and his brother. Currently, Jon and his father manage all of the farm’s acres. The farm’s main crops have been corn and soybeans, some alfalfa and a small cow-calf operation, but Jon says they have begun to accept the limitations of this system. In 1998 the farm started no-tilling to start addressing soil health issues, and Jon and his father are now investigating cover crops as a way to continue conserving and ultimately regenerating the land.

Directions from Iowa Route 92: Head south on Co Rd. M16 / 370th Street. The road will transition from pavement to asphalt after 5 miles. After another 4.5 miles, the road crosses a green bridge over the West Nishnabotna River and then goes through an “S” curve; the farm is the third house on the left (east) side of the road after the “S” curve. From U.S. 34: Head north on Co Rd. M16 / 370th Street. Maple Edge Farm is the second house on the right (east) side of the road.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 field day season features 35 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available on Practical Farmers’ website, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2014 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Calcium Products; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Gateway Market and Café; Grain Millers, Inc.; Grassland Oregon; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (ICASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Cross Seed – Soil First; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Insurance Corporation; MOSA Organic Certification; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); National Wildlife Federation; Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed and Honey Company.


Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers that seeks to strengthen farms and communities through 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 www.practicalfarmers.org.


Jon and Tina Bakehouse | Maple Edge Farm | (712) 370-3629 | mapleedgefarm@gmail.com

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | tamsyn@practicalfarmers.org