Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 winter farminar series starts Jan. 12, featuring Klass Martens on small grains

For Release: January 5, 2016

Ames, Iowa —Practical Farmers of Iowa is pleased to announce the next round of speakers and topics for its popular farminar series. Since launching the free webinars in 2009, Practical Farmers has produced more than 100 online presentations featuring farmers and experts presenting on a wide range of farm production and business management topics.

The 2016 winter farminar series starts Jan. 12, and runs each Tuesday, from 7-8:30 p.m. CST, through March 8. Featured topics span a wide range of farming enterprises, and are geared toward beginning and established farmers alike. The interactive format allows attendees to listen in and ask questions using a chatbox. Each farminar is recorded and archived at for later viewing.

The series kicks off with a string of presentations covering the benefits of growing small grains like rye and oats. Such small grains crops were once grown on millions of acres in Iowa, but are now hard to find across the state. The first presentation – “Nuts and Bolts of Small Grain Production” – will be led by Klass Martens, a nationally-recognized farmer and advocate for organic and sustainable practices. Klass will describe the many small grains he grows in New York, and discuss ways to add a third crop to Iowa’s rotations.

Subsequent small grains-focused farminars will examine specific small grains crops. On Jan. 19, Iowa farmer Mark Peterson will discuss how raising cereal rye allows more time in the fall to plant a diverse cover crop mix for grazing livestock. The following week, Iowa farmer George Schaefer will present on the benefits oats can provide to an organic crop rotation.

Other farminar topics in the 2016 winter season include the pros and cons of moveable high tunnels; herbicide restriction considerations when using cover crops as forage; seed-starting on two different farms; walk-in cooler considerations and construction; important farm financials; and neonicotinoid seed treatments.

The full farminar schedule, including titles, descriptions and speakers, is appended at the bottom of this release, along with a separate list of speakers organized alphabetically by town.

To participate: Go to and click the “Join in” button and select to sign in as “Guest.” All farminars are from 7-8:30 p.m. CST on Tuesday evenings.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 winter farminars are made possible with funding from Ceres Trust, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Water Quality Initiative& Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, National Resources Conservation Service and the Walton Family Foundation.


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

Steve Carlson | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

2016 Winter Farminar Line-up

1). Jan. 12 – “Nuts and Bolts of Small Grains Production” – Klaas Martens
Klaas Martens and his partner, Mary-Howell farm 1,400 acres in Penn Yan, New York, where they grow certified organic corn, soybeans, spelt, barley, wheat, triticale, oats, rye, red kidney beans and hay. They also raise livestock; own and operate an organic feed and seed business; sit on numerous boards and committees; speak at conferences across the U.S.; and conduct on-farm research. Klaas will talk about growing small grains as part of his operation in New York, and is eager to have a discussion on growing small grains in Iowa.
• Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens farm 1,400 acres of organic corn, soybeans, and small grains such as wheat, spelt, barley, oats, triticale, and heritage grains. They have been farming organically since 1993, and own and operate Lakeview Organic Grain, an organic feed and seed business in Penn Yan, New York.

2). Jan. 19 – “What a Small Grain Crop Can Afford You: Diverse Covers for Grazing” – Mark Peterson and Colten Catterton
Mark Peterson has been raising cereal rye for seed the past few years in southwestern Iowa. Harvesting his main seed crop in July gives Mark the opportunity to plant a diverse cover crop mix for the remainder of the growing season. Later in the year, his neighbor’s cattle are allowed to graze the mix. Mark will discuss how he and his neighbor decide on fencing, water and rent as part of the arrangement. Colten Catterton of Green Cover Seed works with Mark and other farmers on selecting cover crop species based on specific goals. He’ll address how he and Mark selected the Petersons’ cover crop mix, and what things to consider when choosing a mix for grazing purposes.
• Mark and Melanie Peterson farm about 500 acres near Stanton, Iowa, where they’ve been experimenting for several years with different methods to get cover crops to work with their farm. They raise corn, soybeans and small grains using cover crops and no-till practices.
• Colten Catterton is a sales agronomist with Green Cover Seed, where he helps design cover crop mixtures tailored to meet specific management goals. Colten was raised on a farm in southern Maryland where his family grew wheat, milo, corn, soybeans and hay. He has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s degree focusing on cover crop research.

3). Jan. 26 – “Benefits of a Small Grain in Organic Rotations” – George Schaefer and Erin Silva
George Schaefer farms in southeastern Iowa, where he uses oats in his organic crop rotation as both a grain crop and nurse crop for alfalfa and other legumes. George will discuss this rotation, and how having small grains in the rotation spreads the labor across the year. Erin Silva will discuss research results from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she serves as the organic and sustainable cropping systems specialist.
• George Schaefer farms with his brother Steve near Kalona, Iowa. Their farm includes both conventional and organic practices, cover crops and a 140-head cow herd grazing on a rotational system. The Schaefers have been involved in a long-term cover crop research trial in partnership with Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa.
• Dr. Erin Silva is an assistant professor with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Plant Pathology. Her program focuses broadly on organic agricultural production, including vegetables, row crops and pastures. Erin is a member of the Wisconsin Organic Advisory Council and is involved with organic agriculture at both the local and national levels.

4). Feb. 2 – “Moveable High Tunnels: Pros and Cons” – Mike Bollinger
Fruit and vegetable producers interested in adding a high tunnel have a wide variety of options to consider when choosing what’s best for their operation. Though more expensive than a stationary structure, moveable high tunnels can offer many additional benefits and may be worth the expense. Mike Bollinger, organic vegetable farmer and co-founder of Four Season Tools, will discuss whether a movable high tunnel is right for you. He’ll also offer tips for site selection, crop production, common issues one might encounter and more.
• Mike Bollinger co-founded Four Season Tools with Greg Garbos in 2007. The company designs innovative products and services that extend crop growing seasons, among other things. Mike has since returned to farming full-time. With his partner, Katie, he owns and operates River Root Farm, a certified organic vegetable farm in Decorah, Iowa.

5). Feb. 9 – “Herbicide Restriction Considerations for Using Cover Crops as Forage” – Joe Sellers and Tim Palmer
Thinking of using cover crops as forage for livestock? Don’t forget to factor in herbicides used earlier in the growing season! Some herbicide labels have restrictions that would rule out using subsequent crops as forage. Joe Sellers, beef specialist at Iowa State University Extension, and Madison County farmer Tim Palmer, will discuss herbicide restriction considerations when grazing or harvesting cover crops. A newly developed ISU Extension fact sheet will be shared, along with farmer experiences and recommendations for herbicide application when incorporating cover crops into row crop systems.
• Joe Sellers has been with ISU Extension and Outreach since 1987. He has extensive background in beef and sheep management systems, and works with producers as they decide feed rations, bull selection, grazing management and marketing. He has been a partner in a family farming operation in Lucas County since 1976.
• Tim Palmer farms with his family near Truro, Iowa, raising corn, soybeans, oats, hay and rotationally-grazed beef cattle. Tim’s farm includes conservation practices such as terraces, filter strips and ponds, and he works closely with state and national conservation organizations.

6). Feb. 16 – “Seed Starting 101: Two Examples” – Susan Jutz and Glen Elsbernd
For fruit and vegetable producers, the growing season begins long before the first crops are actually planted in the ground. There are many variations to the process of starting seeds indoors, and each farm has unique methods and schedules according to its goals, markets and available resources. Hear about seed-starting from two horticulture farmers who grow for different end markets: Susan Jutz, who grows produce for a CSA, and Glen Elsbernd, who grows plant starts and produce for market.
• Susan Jutz owns and operates ZJ Farms near Solon, Iowa, raising vegetables for Local Harvest CSA, the 200-member Community Supported Agriculture business she helps to supply. Susan has participated in numerous on-farm research projects with Practical Farmers, and was the 2014 recipient of PFI’s Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award.
• Glen Elsbernd and his wife Beth have been farming near Ridgeway, Iowa, since 2008. They now own and operate G It’s Fresh, a certified organic farm that primarily grows wholesale and custom plant starts in their two heated greenhouses.

7). Feb. 23– “Walk-in Cooler Considerations and Construction” – Tim Landgraf and Tony Thompson
Ensuring the fruits and vegetables produced by your farm make it to the consumer in the best possible condition requires proper storage between harvest and delivery. Tim Landgraf from One Step at a Time Gardens will discuss the three types of walk-in coolers he has used over the farm’s 20-year history. He will also cover important considerations when choosing a cooler, such as size, temperature, shelving, product life and common issues. Tony Thompson, of New Family Farm, will discuss the process he recently went through to build his own walk-in cooler, and share his blueprints, material, and advice for those thinking of doing the same.
• Tim Landgraf and Jan Libbey have operated One Step at a Time Gardens near Kanawha, Iowa, since 1990, raising produce that they market through a CSA, as well as chickens. They offer a variety of CSA share options from mid-May through December, and direct market their chicken.
• Tony Thompson is a beginning farmer operating an expanding CSA on his family’s Century Farm near Elkhart, Iowa. Tony serves on the boards of the Iowa Farmers Union and Iowa Food Co-op.

8). March 1 – “Important Farm Financials: How to Get Started” – Paul Quam
Most people who get started in agriculture do it out of a desire to grow things, rather than a desire to work with spreadsheets, do calculations or run a business. But understanding basic financial information is vital for long-term success. Paul Quam has extensive experience providing farm management and financial services across the nation, and will provide an introduction to farm financials. He’ll discuss what numbers you need to be collecting, and how to use them to formulate a cash-flow, enterprise budget, as well as projected income. This farminar is also a chance for beginning and experienced farmers to ask questions of someone with experience as a banker or loan officer.
• Paul Quam has 40 years of experience with agricultural finance. He completed an MBA in finance and marketing, and has worked for a Fortune 500 company; as operations manager of a 5,000-acre soybean seed operation; and as an agricultural loan officer and C.E.O. of a community bank. For the last 27 years, Paul has worked as an independent financial consultant, serving clients ranging from family farms to Fortune 500 companies in 14 states. He especially enjoys helping young people get off on the right foot.

9). March 8 – “Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments: Are They Necessary?” – Dick Sloan and Matt O’Neal
Dick Sloan farms near Rowley in northeastern Iowa. For the past two years, he has conducted on-farm research on soybeans grown from neonicotinoid-treated and untreated seeds, and found no differences in yield. As a result, he has been able to cut input costs on his farm. Matt O’Neal, research entomologist at Iowa State University, will discuss recent research on the possible negative impacts of neonicotinoids, along with management alternatives for growers.
• Dick and Diana Sloan sustain 720 acres of family-owned cropland in the Cedar River Watershed in northeastern Iowa. They employ many conservation practices, including no-till farming, tile drainage, grassed waterways, contoured buffers, terraces, prairie strips, small grains and cover crops.
• Dr. Matt O’Neal is an associate professor of entomology at Iowa State University, where he oversees research related to the management of insect pests of annual crops, with a focus on soybeans. His overall goal is to develop pest management programs that are economically and environmentally sustainable.

Farminar Presenters by Community

Ames, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, March 8

  • Dr. Matt O’Neal is an associate professor of entomology at Iowa State University focusing on managing insect pests in soybeans.
    Chariton, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Feb. 9
  • Joe Sellers is the beef specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
    Corning, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Jan. 19
  • Colten Catterton is a sales agronomist with Green Cover Seed, where he helps design cover crop mixtures tailored to meet specific management goals.
    Decorah, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Feb. 2
  • Mike Bollinger owns and operates River Root Farm, an organic vegetable farm that uses unheated high tunnels to extend the growing season.
    Elkhart, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Feb. 23
  • Tony Thompson finished his second year running a CSA operation at New Family Farm, his family’s Century Farm.
    Jefferson, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, March 1
  • Paul Quam of Quam and Associates has more than 30 years of experience providing business consulting and farm financial services to operations across the country.
    Kalona, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Jan. 26
  • George Schaefer farms using conventional and organic practices, cover crops, and rotationally grazed cattle with his brother Steve.
    Kanawha, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Feb. 23
  • Tim Landgraf and his wife, Jan Libbey, offer a variety of CSA options through their farm, One Step at a Time Gardens.
    Ridgeway, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Feb. 16
  • Glen Elsbernd produces certified organic plants and vegetables on his farm, G It’s Fresh.
    Rowley, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, March 8
  • Dick Sloan farms 720 acres in the Cedar River watershed using multiple conservation practices.
    Solon, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Feb. 16
  • Susan Jutz owns and operates ZJ farms, where she supplies vegetables for a 200-member CSA.
    Stanton, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Jan. 19
  • Mark Peterson raises corn, soybeans and small grains using cover crops and no-till practices.
    Truro, Iowa – Presenting on: Tuesday, Feb. 9
  • Tim Palmer farms with his family raising corn, soybeans, oats, hay and beef cattle.
    Madison, Wisconsin – Presenting on: Tuesday, Jan. 26
  • Dr. Erin Silva is an assistant professor with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she serves as the organic and sustainable cropping systems specialist.
    Penn Yan, New York – Presenting on: Tuesday, Jan. 12
  • Klaas Martens is a nationally recognized farmer and advocate for organic, sustainable agriculture.