Member Priority: Small Grains

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Small grains are a unique crop in the Midwestern system because they are harvested early – around July – leaving the field open for different field operations and cover crops. This longer window makes it possible to grow a legume cover crop that can synthesize nitrogen and offset purchased fertilizer costs for the following crop […]

February 19, 2018 


In many regions of North America, red clover has a long history of use as an underseeded cover crop in small grain systems. While enthusiasm for cover crops is increasing, red clover use is in decline due to perceptions that other cover crop options are superior, and also due to concerns of poor red clover stand establishment. Research data, however consistently demonstrates that red clover is still the preferred cover crop for soil health, rotation effect, and nitrogen contribution. When used in combination with winter wheat in a corn/soybean system, the impact on soil health and economics is profound. Based on 20+ years of red clover experience, Dr. Deen will describe how to estimate yield and nitrogen benefits of red clover and will discuss recent research aimed at ensuring red clover stand uniformity when underseeded to either small grains or corn.

February 6, 2018 


fit into extended and diversified
crop rotations between the
small grain and corn phases of
the rotation. They can either be
underseeded with a small grain
crops in early spring or planted
in the summer following small
grain harvest.
• Farmer-cooperators Doug
Alert & Margaret Smith and
Vic Madsen compared corn
following two green manure
strategies: red clover or alfalfa
underseeded with oats (US) vs. a
mix of sunn hemp, sweet clover,
red clover and radish planted in
mid-summer after oat harvest
Key Findings
• Weed biomass in oats in mid-July
was no different with or without
the underseeding at both farms.
• By mid-October 2016, the US
(red clover) produced more
aboverground biomass than
the MSS by almost 1,000 lb/ac
at Alert/Smith’s. The opposite
was true at Madsen’s: the MSS
produced more biomass than the
US (alfalfa) by approx. 800 lb/ac.
• Corn yields were no different
between the two green manure
treatments at both farms.

January 17, 2018 


Are you growing rye or winter wheat for grain or seed this year? What’s the plan after your harvest? If you’re looking to add nitrogen for a 2019 corn crop, now might be the time to think about frost seeding red clover into that rye or wheat in late February. Red clover as a green […]



As farmers wrap up their season and plan for next, PFI’s farmer-cooperators have an additional responsibility: submit the data they collected from this year’s research trials and plan next year’s projects. The first week in December marks the annual two-day Cooperators’ Meeting where farmer members meet to discuss these research results with each other and […]

December 6, 2017 


The research by Practical Farmers and ISU is filling a critical gap in small-grains knowledge

November 13, 2017 


Clark Porter manages his family’s farm near Reinbeck. He is a former teacher and non-profit administrator. A Practical Farmers member since 2012, Clark is an advocate for healthy soil and clean water. He and his wife, Sharon, a Spanish teacher, have two grown sons. In his spare time, Clark enjoys kayaking, hiking and camping throughout […]

October 26, 2017 


Continuing work from the previous two years, Practical Farmers of Iowa and partners conducted another round of oat variety trials in 2017. Fifteen varieties were screened at two Iowa State University research farms (Kanawha, Nashua) and one PFI farmer-member farm (Wayne Koehler, Charles City)  Find the new report here: Oat Variety and Fungicide Trials 2017. […]

October 17, 2017 


In a Nutshell
• Small grain crops, like oats, are seeing
renewed interest by farmers in Iowa.
Iowa was once a nationwide leader
in oats production, but many farm
families have not grown them for a
generation or two.
• 15 oat varieties were screened at two
Iowa State University research farms
and one commercial farm.
Key findings
• Top yield performers differed at each
• Antigo had the highest test weight at
each location (≥38 lb/bu) but was also
among the lowest yielding varieties.
Reins scored a test weight of 38 lb/bu
at Kanawha.
• Application of fungicide did not improve
yield or test weight for the four
varieties tested at Nashua.

October 16, 2017 


Applications are now open for the beginning farmer Savings Incentive ProgramFor Release: September 28, 2017Contact: Greg Van Den Berghe | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | Steve Carlson | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 |   AMES, Iowa — Practical Farmers of Iowa is now accepting applications for the [...]

September 28, 2017