Learn about cover crops from start to finish at Peterson farm field day – Sept. 12, near Stanton

For Release: August 29, 2014

STANTON, Iowa — When Mark and Melanie Peterson decided to try cover crops for the first time a few years ago, they had misgivings about what cover crops would contribute to their corn-soybean system, and how they would manage more work amid already tight post-harvest and pre-spring planting windows.

Since then, the Petersons have become active cover crop proponents. “Whether your ground is hilly or flat, cover crops can benefit everybody,” Mark says. “Erosion control is one reason to look at cover crops. But another benefit is the improvement in soil organic matter by planting cover crops in the off-season. Planting the right kind of cover crop also has the potential to provide extra nitrogen to your next year’s crop.”

Join Mark and Melanie for an information-packed afternoon as they share their cover crop experience at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Friday, Sept. 12, from 3-5:30 p.m., near Stanton. The event – “Working with Cover Crops: From Start to Finish” – is free to attend and will include dinner at the end of the day. The Peterson farm is located at 2311 N. Ave., about 2 miles southwest of town.

Come learn the what, when and how of working with cover crops, from species selection to planting dates, seeding methods, rotation options and termination. Mark and Melanie will show where they harvested cereal rye for seed and then drilled a 12-way mix of various cover crops seeds to protect the soil, and produce and scavenge nitrogen.

Learn about aerial-seeding via helicopter and, weather permitting, see a live demonstration. Guests will also get to see where Mark and Melanie are comparing use of starter fertilizer to no starter in corn, as well as some trials of foliar feeding on corn. From cover crop beginners to advanced cover croppers, the day will offer something for everyone. Additional speakers will include Colton Catterton of Green Cover Seed, and representatives from United Farmers Mercantile and Johnson Helicopter Services

“I’m excited to see how our cover crop mix is growing and the information to be gained from the series of plots,” Mark says. “I hope we can get farmers excited enough about cover crops to sow them on their fields.”

Mark and Melanie farm between 300 and 400 acres, using no-tillage and minimum tillage practices. They raise corn and soybeans using the latest genetics, as well as “non-income-producing livestock” including dogs, cats and horses.

Directions: From U.S. 34, turn south into Stanton and continue south to Frankfurt Street. Turn right (west) onto Frankfurt (this turns into 225th Street). At the railroad underpass, 225th turns into N Avenue. Proceed south on N Avenue for six-tenths of a mile; the farm will be on the right.

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.


Mark and Melanie Peterson | (712) 370-4004 | markpete@myfmtc.com

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