Learn about organic and conventional grain production at Schaefer farm field day – June 17, near Kalona

For Release: May 29, 2015

KALONA, Iowa — Extending a corn-soybean rotation by adding wheat, alfalfa or small grains can help improve soil quality, build organic matter and improve a farm’s resiliency to unpredictable situations, like weather or pests. But trying to grow a new crop for the first time can be a daunting prospect, from the costs to the logistics of planting, harvesting and deciding how best to use it.

Brothers George and Steve Schaefer have been farming together for 20 years, growing both organic and conventional row crops. They use an extended rotation of corn, beans oats-and-alfalfa, and alfalfa in their organic system. They also plant a rye cover crop, have a 140-head cow herd that they rotationally graze and have received recognition for their conservation practices. George and Steve will host a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day on Wednesday, June 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., near Kalona. They invite farmers and the public to learn how they manage these different systems and use an extended rotation on their farm. The farm is at 2475 135th St., about 6 miles southeast of town

The event – “Rotations: Organic and Conventional Grains and Cattle Grazing” – is free to attend and will include a pizza lunch. RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow at (515) 232-5661 or lauren@practicalfarmers.org by Friday, June 12.  The event is being held in partnership with Iowa Learning Farms, and is sponsored by Frommelt Ag, Grain Millers and Washington County Soil and Water Conservation District.

In addition to explaining the differences between their conventional and organic grain production systems, attendees will learn how George and Steve use a rye cover crop, how oats are used in their organic rotation and how their rotational grazing system is set up. The brothers will also discuss a long-term cover crop trial they have been participating in with Practical Farmers and Iowa Learning Farms. Other speakers will include Steve Berger, a farmer from nearby Wellman, and a representative from the Washington County Natural Resources Conservation Service.

George says that for farmers with both row crops and cattle who are considering trying a small grain, feeding it to the cattle is one way to work it into the rotation. “Our cattle graze our rye whenever possible, and if we raised conventional oats, we would use the oats to feed our calves when we wean them in the fall.”

Directions from Kalona: Go 2 miles south on state Route 1 turn left (east) into Richmond. Go straight through

the stop sign and then 2.5 miles to the farm. From Riverside: Go south 1 mile, turn right on 130th Street and drive about 1.5 miles. When 130th Street intersects 135th Street, turn right (west) to the farm.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2015 field day season features 40 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available online at practicalfarmers.org, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2015 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Natural & Organic Meats; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union in partnership with Town and Country Insurance and Hastings Mutual Insurance; 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 (I-CASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Crosse Seed; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Pro-Soil Ag Solutions; 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.


George and Steve Schaefer | (319) 530-9560 | laughingfarms@cloudburst9.net

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