Wilson farm field day will showcase a diversified, multi-generational operation – Aug. 13, near Paullina

For Release: July 29, 2016

PAULLINA, Iowa — There are many reasons to diversify a farm’s enterprises. Diversifying helps buffer against unpredictable weather and market forces, adds new sources of revenue, creates opportunities for the next generation to farm and improves overall farm resiliency. Dan and Lorna Wilson, of Seven W Farm, started diversifying their 660-acre northwestern Iowa farm more than a decade ago for all these reasons – and others, such as improving their land stewardship.

The farm – which includes three of Dan and Lorna’s five children, April, Torray and Jarron, and their families – now produces organic corn, soybeans, hay and small grains. It also includes an organic dairy, a grass-fed beef herd, a sheep flock, pasture-raised broilers and laying hens, and farrow-to-finish pigs raised for Niman Ranch.

The Wilson family will share their experiences with creating and operating a diversified farm at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Saturday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., near Paullina (4375 Pierce Ave., about 4.5 miles northwest of town). The event – “7 Farmers, 10 Enterprises: Diversity at 7 W Farm” – is free to attend, and will include a potluck lunch. Meat and beverages will be provided; guests are asked to bring a side dish to share.

RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please contact Lauren Zastrow at lauren@practicalfarmers.org or (515) 232-5661 by Tuesday, Aug. 9. The field day is sponsored by Blue River Hybrids, Iowa Organic Association, Nature’s Best LLC and Niman Ranch.

The Wilson family will share their experiences with a pastured poultry operation, including on-farm processing; pasture-based farrow-to-finish pork production; small grains production; and conducting on-farm research. They will discuss an Iowa State University research trial using rotary hoeing in oats for weed control, as well as their own research trials that include using apple cider vinegar in the hog ration for improving animal health; and supplementing hay with micronutrients to see if there is an increase in hay yield and quality.

Guests will get to tour the farm – including the on-farm poultry processing shed – and see one example of a highly diversified farm. In addition, David Weisberger, with the Department of Agronomy at ISU, will speak about small grains production.

“Our diverse rotation has improved our water-holding capacity, and we’ve also documented, through on-farm research we’ve conduced through Practical Farmers, that we’ve improved our infiltration rate,” Dan says. “We had very little flooding because of the diverse crop rotation, whereas some of our neighbors’ fields were deluged.”

Directions from Paullina: Take IA Hwy 10; drive 2 miles west, then turn right (north) onto Pierce Avenue and drive 2.25 miles to 4375 Pierce Avenue. From Primghar: Take County Road B40 / 390th Street 4 miles west; turn left (south) onto Pierce Avenue and travel 4.75 miles to 4375 Pierce Avenue.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2016 field day season features 25 events around Iowa. All field days occur rain or shine, and feature farmer-led discussions and farm or field tours. Details are in Practical Farmers’ “2016 Field Day Guide,” available at practicalfarmers.org, or for free in print.

Practical Farmers’ 2016 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; Applegate Organic & Natural Meats; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment; Grain Millers, Inc.; Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH); Iowa Cover Crop; Iowa Environmental Council; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; ISU Extension and Outreach; ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); MOSA Organic Certification; National Wildlife Federation; Natural Resources Defense Council; North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; RIMOL Greenhouse Systems; Riverside Feeds, LLC; Soil First; The Yield Lab; Trees Forever; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; Welter Seed & Honey Co.; and Willcross Soybeans.


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 https://www.practicalfarmers.org.


Dan and Lorna Wilson | 7 W Farm | (712) 448-3870 | the7wilsons@gmail.com | sevenwfarm.com

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