Field day at Ackley farm will explore integrating cash crops, cover crops and livestock – Sept. 8, Bedford

For Release: August 28, 2015

BEDFORD, Iowa — For Paul and Nancy Ackley, raising livestock does more than diversify their farm enterprises.

“Livestock are one of the tools we use to rebuild and regenerate our resource – the land. They’re also a profit center,” Paul says. “I believe we can rebuild topsoil and organic matter, and do it profitably using livestock, cover crops, and longer rotations.”

Paul and Nancy run an integrated farm raising corn, soybeans, wheat, cattle and hair sheep. They are also enthusiastic users of cover crops, and follow their wheat crop with a mix of species that their cattle eventually graze before rotating to corn.

Join the Ackleys on Tuesday, Sept. 8, from 1-4 p.m. at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting, and learn more about their approach to integrating these farm enterprises. The event – “Integrating Cash Crops, Cover Crops and Livestock” – is free to attend, and will include snacks and refreshments at the end of the program. The Ackley farm is located at 3018 Maryland Ave., about 4 miles north of Bedford.

The field day is sponsored by Green Cover Seed, MFA Incorporated, and Taylor County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Attendees will get an up-close view of the cover crop mix the Ackleys use for grazing their cattle. View a soil pit, and see how the mix grows both above- and below-ground. Learn about small grains production – and how the combination of wheat, cover crops and grazing work as a soil-builder that has reduced the Ackleys’ phosphorous and potassium applications, as well as their herbicide use. In addition, guests will hear from Doug Peterson, Missouri’s state soil health conservationist. Doug and his family maintain their own cow herd and custom-graze cows on contract during the summer.

The Ackley farm encompasses 500 acres in cash grain crops – including wheat, corn and soybeans – that are all produced using no-till methods and cover crops. Livestock on the farm includes a 90-animal cow-calf operation. Cows calve May through July; calves are home-raised, and heifers are retained for replacements. Currently, bull calves are also retained for herd sires. Cattle are rotated daily through about 380 acres of pasture during the grazing season. Cattle have been pesticide- and implant-free for the last four years. A small flock of hair sheep was added about four years ago.

Directions: From Bedford, go about 1 mile east on state Route 2 to Montana Avenue and turn south (it T’s into Route 2 from the south). Go about 2 miles to the first four corners and the first stop sign at 290th Street (also known as County Road J55). Turn right on 290th Street and go 1 mile, then turn left (south) on Maryland Avenue for 1.25 miles; the farm is on the east side of the road.

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, 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.


Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit


Paul and Nancy Ackley | (712) 523-3362 – (home); (712) 621-1040 – (cell) |

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |