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PFI opens 2017 winter series

By Staff | Jan 23, 2017

AMES – Nineteen farmers and agricultural experts are scheduled to speak as part of Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2017 winter webinar series, called “farminars.”

These free online presentations feature practical knowledge on a wide range of farm production and business management topics, geared toward both beginning and established farmers in all enterprises.

The 2017 series initiated Jan. 17 and continues each Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. through March 14. To participate go to practicalfarmers.org/farminars, click the “Join in” button and sign in as a “Guest.”

In addition to the Tuesday night presentations, two farminars on perennial fruit and nut production are scheduled for noon on March 10 and 17.

All presentations are led by a farmer or subject-matter expert, and attendees are able to ask questions in real time using a chatbox while they listen and watch a slideshow. Each farminar is recorded and archived at practicalfarmers.org for later viewing.

Topics will cover risk management for a diversified farm; effective farm mentorships; multi-species grazing and free-choice minerals; producing ryelage for cattle feed; advanced cover crop opportunities; adding small grains to a crop rotation; variety selection for vegetable production; managing organic apple production; unique investor and farmer partnerships; and challenges and opportunities for hazelnut production.

The line-up of topics starting Tuesday is:

  • Jan. 24: “Risk Management for a Diversified Farm.” Environmental and market variables can have a major impact on whether a farm business can be profitable. These variables are often beyond farmers’ control, but can be mitigated through crop insurance. Unfortunately, diversified fruit and vegetable growers have traditionally had few insurance options, and have had to find alternative risk-mitigation strategies. ? Jan. 31: “Effective Mentor Relationships.” Through working with beginning farmers PFI learned how beneficial having a mentor can be for those getting started. Learning from someone else’s triumphs and failures can save new farmers many seasons of trial and error, giving them a greater chance for success.
  • Feb. 7: “Grass-Fed Meat Production Using Multi-Species Grazing and Free-Choice Minerals.” David Carbaugh, of Nobel Pastures Farm in Red Oak, will team up with Derek Lawson, cattleman at Foxhollow Farm, in Kentucky, to discuss pasture and animal management – pasture mixes, grazing strategies, mineral supplementation, biodynamic pasture preparations and marketing grass-fed beef.
  • Feb. 14: “Harvesting, Storing and Feeding Rye to Cattle.” Jim Larson, of Sioux Rapids, plants a rye cover crop ahead of soybeans, then makes ryelage to feed to his beef cattle.
  • Feb. 21: “More Opportunities for Cover Crops.” If you’re looking for innovative ways to get more from your cover crops, why not learn from others’ successes and failures? Two southwest Iowa farmers will share their experiences pursuing the next frontier of cover crops on their farms. Jon Bakehouse will discuss how he has been trying to better accommodate fall-seeded cover crops by using early-maturing varieties of corn and soybeans. Steve McGrew will talk about seeding in the early spring ahead of soybeans.
  • Feb. 28: “Diversifying Your Crop Rotation With Small Grains.” Earl Canfield has spent the last two years relearning how to grow small grains in Iowa.

He has researched machinery, production strategies and varieties. He and his family are working on how to best grow small grains, while also seeking potential market streams.

One market opportunity includes direct-marketing small grains to small-scale livestock owners as either whole grains or as part of complete mixed feeds.

  • March 7: “Variety Selection for Vegetable Production.” 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 reality sets in, vegetable growers realize their winter planning decisions need to be based on data collected from their farm that reflects their soil, weather patterns and growing practices.

  • March 10: “Pest and Disease Management for Organic Apple Production.” Note: This farminar will be held at noon. Managing pests and diseases in a Midwest apple orchard can be tricky, and even more so for organic systems.

A range of preventive approaches needs to be included in an orchard management plan in order to minimize damages and maximize harvests. Maury Wills, of Wills Family Orchard near Adel, will draw from over 20 years of experience with disease and pest management in a certified organic apple orchard.

  • March 14: “Investor and Farmer Partnerships.” More people are looking to invest in farms that are improving the environment and communities. What are those investors looking for? As a farmer, how do you figure out if working with individual investors or companies is the right fit?
  • March 17: “Challenges and Opportunities with Hazelnuts.” Note: This farminar will be held at noon.

Hazelnuts are an excellent perennial crop option for various agroforestry practices.Not only do they provide multiple landscape benefits, they produce tasty and nutritious nuts.

Opportunities are growing for farmers to establish hazelnuts on their farms – but there are challenges as well.

Join Iowa Nut Growers Association president and hazelnut grower Jeff Jensen, and Minnesota Hazelnut Foundation member and grower Norm Erickson, to learn more about the challenges and opportunities in hazelnut production.

A schedule for all upcoming farminars and an archive containing over 100 past farminars are also available at this link.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2017 winter farminars are made possible with funding from the Ceres Trust; Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Division of Soil Conservation; Specialty Crop Block Grant and Water Quality Initiative; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; McKnight Foundation; National Fish and Wildlife Association; Natural Resources Conservation Service; and the USDA’s Risk Management Agency.

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