Renowned animal behaviorist Fred Provenza will lead three-day workshop – Nov. 15-17, in Winterset

For Release: October 27, 2016

WINTERSET, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa has invited renowned rangeland scientist and animal behaviorist Fred Provenza to teach a three-day workshop exploring how behavioral processes link the health of soil, plants, herbivores and humans, Nov. 15-17, in Winterset. The workshop – “The Web of Life: Three Days with Fred Provenza” – runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, and will include classroom and field segments.

Classroom portions will take place in the Jackson Building, on the Madison County Fairgrounds (1204 W. Summit St.). The second day will feature a visit to the farm of Practical Farmers member Frank Santana, who operates All 4 1 1 4 All Cattle Company just north of Winterset, where attendees will apply lessons learned in the classroom.

The workshop is free, but registration is required. Please contact Lauran Zastrow, (515) 232-5661 or, by Wednesday, Nov. 9, to sign up. Breakfast and lunch will be provided each day; dinner, and lodging for those who need it, are not covered. A block of rooms is available at the Cobblestone Inn and Suites in Winterset; mention Practical Farmers of Iowa for a room discount. The event is sponsored by Practical Farmers of Iowa and Niman Ranch.

Workshop attendees will explore the interrelationships between plant, animal and human behavior and what those links mean for how people and the animals in their care can transform – ecologically, economically and culturally – with the landscapes they inhabit. Attendees will learn how the vitality of the land influences the species and behaviors of soil-dwelling organisms, which in turn affects the varieties, chemical characteristics and behaviors of plants. Other topics will explore epigenetics; creative systems; foraging challenges; the value of plant diversity; grazing and plant palatability; and producing nutrient-rich food.

“Plants are the glue that binds ecosystems together,” says Fred, who is a professor emeritus at Utah State University. “Ultimately, the health and wellbeing of people is linked with the health of soil through plants and herbivores. The goal of the workshop is to help people become aware of behavioral principles and processes that foster healthy relationships among soil, plants, herbivores and people.”

Fred says that understanding these behavioral links can help livestock farmers save money and start to develop creative approaches to managing their land and animals. “Unlike costly infrastructures, such as corrals and fences, understanding and implementing behavioral principles costs little because they don’t depend on fossil fuels,” he says. “It’s what’s in our brains, not what’s in our pocketbooks, that counts. Once people grasp and use behavioral principles on landscapes, they create practices that are innovative, inclusive, and self-transforming.”

Fred Provenza has a doctorate in range science and was a professor in the Wildland Resources Department at Utah State University from 1982 until his retirement in 2009. In 2001, he helped form a consortium of international researchers and land managers called BEHAVE, which aims to understand behavioral principles and processes that govern diet and habitat selection for both humans and other animals.

Frank Santana rotationally grazes 160 cows and calves on 400 acres, moving cattle on horseback every two to three days. Cattle graze crop residues while fall pastures are stockpiled for winter.

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, 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


Meghan Filbert | Livestock Coordinator | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |

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