Equipping farmers to build resilient farms and communities.
When the seeds for Practical Farmers of Iowa were sown almost 35 years ago, it was in response to the difficult farming conditions of the mid-1980s. A group of farmers – led by my neighbors Dick and Sharon Thompson of Boone – came together to figure out how to farm in a way that focused on stewardship and profitability.

This grassroots group of farmers formed Practical Farmers of Iowa, which is just as relevant in today’s farming climate as it was 35 years ago. The network that makes up PFI has since expanded to include those who raise row crops, livestock and horticultural crops, as well as non-farmers who want to support our efforts.

This diverse community has grown, but continues to share a sense of curiosity to improve their farm operations and a willingness to share their experiences with others. Please join our exceptional network of farmers and friends of farmers.


Jeremy Gustafson
Boone County farmer and proud member of Practical Farmers of Iowa
There is a lot happening in the world of agriculture. You may have noticed that at PFI, we have a lot happening in our communications department as well!

We talk a lot about effective messaging. To us, effective messaging tells a story and creates an opportunity for change. Telling that story and creating a welcoming space to discuss, debate and ultimately adapt to agricultural issues is a high priority for us and we have grown our organization to meet those needs.
Three farmers -- Kate Edwards of Iowa City, Jill Beebout of Chariton and Carmen Black of Solon -- were curious about the best way to germinate lettuce seed in summer transplants. Did pelleted or unpelleted lettuce seed work better during hot summer months?

Their on-farm research looked at germination rates and seedling quality when lettuce was grown via pelletized seed versus using a wetted sheet covering seedling trays during germination.
New video from PFI!
On-farm research opportunities with PFI!
Are you interested in conducting on-farm research on cover crops? We currently have three on-farm research projects in need of participants.

Read the brief descriptions below, and follow the links for more information or to signal your interest. We have limited funding and would like to distribute the sites geographically as best as possible -- so unfortunately, we will not be able to accept all those who are interested.
Project #1: Cover Crops and Manure

Are you curious about pairing cover crops and liquid swine manure? Have you ever wondered things like:

Do I need a nitrogen inhibitor with my manure if I use cover crops?

Can I apply manure earlier in the fall if I have a cover crop out there?

Will a cover crop affect manure nitrogen availability to corn?

Project #2: Effect of Planting Green on Corn Seedling Disease, Stalk Rot and Yield

This is a two-year collaboration with Alison Robertson, Iowa State University plant pathologist, who has recently been studying how often seedling disease shows up on corn following cereal rye cover crops.

Cooperators must commit to participating both years.

Project #3: Cereal Rye Cover Crop Seeding Date and Rate Comparison

This on-going project is designed to test the effects of cover crop seeding date and rate on cereal rye biomass production and corn yield.

We are looking for two sites to join this multi-year, multi-site project starting this fall.

Farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin are invited to apply for cost-share on small grains harvested in 2020 and followed by a legume-containing cover crop. Small grains include barley, oats, rye, triticale or wheat.

A legume cover crop could be under- or co-seeded clover or alfalfa, or a summer-planted cover that includes hairy vetch or field peas.

Practical Farmers of Iowa will pay $25 per acre in cost-share on up to 100 acres per farmer for this combination of a main crop and cover crop on either conventional acres or those transitioning to organic. Certified organic acres are not eligible.

Acres are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. Reserve your acres on our small grains cost-share page by clicking the button below.
Applications are now OPEN for the SIP class of 2021 ! Getting a start in farming can be difficult, and sometimes you need a little guidance to keep you on track. The Savings Incentive Program was created to help beginners establish viable, sustainable farm businesses. The program was structured with input from beginning farmers and direction from established farmers.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Either be farming on their own now and have farmed for five or fewer years, or have some experience working for a farm business

  • Reside in Iowa or farm in the state

Applications are due by Friday, Oct. 11.
There are no field days this week -- click here to view upcoming field days!
Sept. 15 | 5-7 p.m. | Carlisle

Alfonso Valenzuela Gumucio and Douglas Rooney started Gleann Daire Farm in 2018. They are currently raising laying hens and are building a mobile chicken coop to move the flock out onto the pasture.

The newest residents at the farm include 10 Romeldale-CVM sheep and their llama guardians. Future plans include a high tunnel structure for cut flower and vegetable production, as well as 3 acres of vineyards. Join Alfonso and Douglas to hear about their first year establishing a diversified farm.
Sept. 15: Social - Beginning Farmer
5-7 p.m. | Carlisle

Sept. 17: Field Day - Establishing Pollinator Habitat
4-7 p.m. | West Branch

Sept. 21: Field Day - Rotationally Raised Poultry
2-4 p.m. | Iowa City
Sept. 22: Field Day - Beekeeping in Iowa
4-7 p.m. | Glenwood

1-5 p.m. | Chelsea

Oct. 6: Field Day - Extending the Vegetable Season
3-5 p.m. |Mt. Vernon
During our September member drive, if you join or renew your membership with Practical Farmers of Iowa, you'll receive a limited edition PFI pocket journal to help you observe, document and improve your practices. 

Please join our exceptional network of farmers and friends of farmers and Become a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa today!
Yoshiko and Erwin Johnson, and Wendy Johnson and Johnny Rafkin, all of Charles City, were featured in Wallaces Farmer: Cultivating cultural exchange

Robert and April Alexander of Remsen were featured in the Sioux City Journal: Uneasy with herbicides and sensing opportunity, some Northwest Iowa farmers go organic
Have you been featured in the media? Tell us when and where to find a link to the article, and we'll feature you in a future issue of Practical News.