He Was Growing Cover Crops Before Covers Were Cool

Iowa Farm Scene

Iowa lost one of its pioneers in sustainable agriculture, Dick Thompson, co-founder of Practical Farmers of Iowa, who died Aug. 17 at age 81.

Published on: August 27, 2013

Buried in his bib overalls, Dick Thompson was first and foremost a farmer. But he thought like a top-notch researcher. The casket was open and he was wearing bib overalls like he always did. When I attended his funeral visitation last week, it was the first time I ever saw someone laid out for burial in bib overalls. It was appropriate. He was there so we could say goodbye to him just as we knew him and will remember him.

Dick farmed with wife Sharon and family near Boone in central Iowa for many years. He died August 17 at age 81. He was co-founder of Practical Farmers of Iowa in 1985. A believer in on-farm research and sharing information with everyone, he and Sharon hosted 41,000 visitors to the farm and conducted 52 research projects since 1987. Visitors from all over the world came to the 300 acre diversified crop and livestock farm to listen to Dick and learn about his research. The Thompsons also gave talks in other countries sharing their thoughts on alternative farming methods and sustainable ag.

MASTER FARMER, MASTER RESEARCHER: Dick and Sharon Thompson hosted 41,000 visitors to their crop and livestock farm near Boone in central Iowa over the years. Dick co-founded Practical Farmers of Iowa in 1985 and since then conducted over 50 research projects on the farm. He experimented with crop rotations, new ways to build the soil and much more. Besides hosting PFI field days, Dick and Sharon traveled worldwide presenting seminars on alternative agriculture.
MASTER FARMER, MASTER RESEARCHER: Dick and Sharon Thompson hosted 41,000 visitors to their crop and livestock farm near Boone in central Iowa over the years. Dick co-founded Practical Farmers of Iowa in 1985 and since then conducted over 50 research projects on the farm. He experimented with crop rotations, new ways to build the soil and much more. Besides hosting PFI field days, Dick and Sharon traveled worldwide presenting seminars on alternative agriculture.

Dick was most at peace on his farm wearing bib overalls and working with his on-farm research trials

Dick and Sharon were named Iowa Master Farmers by Wallaces Farmer magazine in 2003. So I did see him in a suit and tie once -- at the Master Farmer Awards Day luncheon. He was most at peace on his farm wearing bib overalls and working with on-farm research. Dick was named a Master Farm Researcher by PFI when the organization began that award in 2013. Dick last presented some of his research results at the 2013 PFI Annual Conference in Ames.