Person: Rob Faux

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Four diversified vegetable farms planted strips of an annual flower mix. Farms assessed flower establishment and attractiveness to insects. Buckwheat dominated the mix, providing early blooms but perhaps to the detriment of other flowering species. After buckwheat bloomed, there was a gap before the cosmos began to bloom. Basil, dill and cilantro did not fare well in the mix; farmers would prefer to transplant or plant these species in monoculture blocks.

April 12, 2018 


Six farmers compared three or four
lettuce varieties, Coastal Star, Hampton,
Magenta, and Muir, to determine
which produces better during summer
months (harvest July – Sept.) in Iowa.
Key Findings
• Magenta had the highest yields on
three of the six farms, and was much
more heat tolerant than Coastal Star.
• Coastal Star produced sizeable heads –
particularly in earlier successions – but
tended to bolt quickly.
• Farmers found they could grow quality
summer head lettuce using these
varieties, though specific preferences
differed by farm.

December 6, 2017 


After participating in the 2016 Summer
Broccoli Variety Trial, Rob Faux wanted
to do a 4-year comparison of his yields
for Gypsy and Belstar. He collected
data in 2017 to match his informal
data collection from past years.
Key Findings
• No statistical analysis was performed
on the data because the trial did not
have replications. However, Gypsy had
higher yields for both successions
every year.
• 2015 was a good year for summer
broccoli, with Gypsy having larger
crowns and more crown harvest than
other years for Gypsy and all years for
Belstar. Gypsy crowns also produced
well in 2017.
• Faux’s 2016 crop had lower survival
rates than previous years and were not
healthy long enough for productive
side shoots.
• Faux plans to continue using and collecting
yield data on both varieties of

November 22, 2017 


For several years, Practical Farmers has worked to elevate understanding and communication about pesticide drift issues. Recently, we have gathered our pesticide drift materials to a new webpage and a few new resources: a document called “Pesticide Drift and the Law,” which provides background information for farmers and their lawyers; and a video series featuring farmers […]

June 8, 2017 


Variety Selection for Vegetable ProductionMarch 8, 2017 View Farminar Pre-recorded For Rob Faux, winter is the season for what he humorously calls “farmer delusional syndrome.” Fields do not have weeds, projects take half the time and pictures in the seed catalogues tempt farmers to grow every new variety available in the coming growing season. When [...]

March 8, 2017 


A group of farmers and landowners gathered in Tripoli’s Bremer County Extension office to join PFI and the Xerces Society for a full day of pollinators and on-farm habitat. Sarah Foltz Jordan, a pollinator conservation specialist with Xerces, gave a presentation in the morning, discussing pollinator diversity, strategies for attracting different species, and examples of […]

September 29, 2016 


Fruit and vegetable farmers are exploring on-farm compost methods to lower their input costs, increase soil microbial diversity, manage waste and improve yields. Following up on a 2014 PFI study with Jason Jones and Siobhan Danreis,  Rob Faux (Bremer County) and Siobhan (Pocohontas County) held on-farm trials investigating the effect of compost extract on yield […]

July 7, 2016 


Registration is now open for the 2016 Practical Farmers CSA Workshop Retreat, February 5 – 6, at the Pilgrim Heights Retreat Center in Montour. Attendees will be divided into an “Experienced” group (at least three years experience managing a CSA) and an “Exploratory” group (those in their first years or new to CSA management).

December 28, 2015 


Since 1987, the Cooperators’ Program has been Practical Farmers of Iowa’s vehicle for conducting on-farm research on the issues and concerns deemed most important by our members. The Cooperators’ Program is the epitome of what PFI is all about: Farmer-led investigation and information sharing. In 2015, 63 farmers took part in 35 research projects on […]

December 17, 2015 


Objectives: 1. Determine if bi-weekly soil drench applications of compost extract affects yield of lettuce and/or carrot. 2. Determine if bi-weekly soil drench applications of compost extract affects deg. Brix of lettuce and/or carrot. 3. Inform best practices for storing compost, steeping extract, and applying extract drench to soil.

July 7, 2015