Practical Farmers of Iowa field days have become a tradition. This year that tradition is more venerable than ever as the organization celebrates its 20th anniversary.
But field days are about more than just tradition; they are about innovation and vision. PFI field days offer something of interest for everyone. Check out the following events scheduled for the rest of the season.
* Field school for weed management. Matt Liebman of ISU agronomy department heads up this field day August 22, , southwest of ISU Agronomy farm near Ames.
Topics include: Evaluating the influence of seed predators on giant foxtail in soybeans; effect of row spacing and emergence timing on the suppression of weeds; comparing the weed dynamics in two-, three- and four-year crop rotations with conventional and reduced rates of herbicides.
This field day will continue, if you wish to go on, from at the Richard and Sharon Thompson farm, 2035 - 190th St., Boone. Demonstrations at this farm include 38 years of ridge-till weed management with heavy manure applications but no broadcast herbicides or purchased fertilizers; corn variety trial; conventional vs. alternative soybean rust treatments.
* Sustainable row crops, livestock, home gardens. This August 24th field day at Neely-Kinyon Research Farm, 2557 Norfolk Ave., Greenfield. Wagon tours start at
Topics include flax rotational study; breeding corn for quality -- comparing variety crosses; tillage intensity study; organic tofu-soybean vs. organic low-linolenic soybean yields and economics; organic azuki beans; rust sentinel plots in soybean, and organic vs. conventional crop rotations.
Roundup weed resistance; rye cover crop for green beans and peas; sweet corn organic ear worm control; grazing fall calves; new forage crops -- crabgrass to perennial ryegrass; alfalfa variety demonstration; unusual nut and fruit trees; and the Iowa Learning Farm Project.
* Organic flax production and marketing. August 27 is the field day for flax, from , at Paul and Karen Mugge farm, 6190 - 470th St., Sutherland.
Topics are: Underseeding trial with overlay of different preceding crops; overview of ongoing flax research in Iowa; and results from the 2004-05 organic flax experiments at ISU research farms.
Mark Schuett, American Natural Soy, will speak. Kelsey Hatcher, of Spectrum Organics, will discuss "What are marketing prospects? What are the prospects for the 2006 contracts? What can Iowa growers do to better meet the Spectrum specs?" A producer roundtable will discuss production tips and lessons learned.
* Low-lin vs. tofu beans, hybrids, forage tools, finishing beef. This August 29 field day is hosted by Ron and Dottie Dunphy, 1758 Iris Ave., Creston. Starting at you'll see a corn-variety comparison. At , the program features Darrell Busby, ISU Extension, discussing home court advantages, distillers dry grains and the Tri-County Futurity.
Topics on the afternoon program are "Organic soybeans: Where's the best niche?"; Tofu variety (IA 3011) vs. low-linolenic fatty acid variety (IA 3017), productivity and economics; Is the "low-lin" soybean a competitive option for the organic grower compared to a tofu-type variety? Premiums and market availability currently favor the tofu varieties. Yields, staining and cleanout requirements favor the low-lin option.
This side-by-side trial will help settle the low-lin vs. tofu question. At you'll see a haymaking equipment demonstration.
* Conservation Security Program at work. On September 8 from this topic will be covered at the Vic and Cindy Madsen farm, 2186 Goldfinch Ave., Audubon. From : CSP overview: Madsens' experience; PFI farmer survey; the CSP last year and today (local NRCS). From 3-5 p.m.: Field Tour -- What the Madsens are doing for their CSP dollars with supporting presentations including; wildlife enhancements; benefits of certification and financial help for certification, and transitioning to organic.
* ZJ farm tour and celebration. September 10 from PFI president Susan Jutz will host a field day at 5025 - 120th St. NE, Solon. Farm tours will be from At enjoy a potluck dinner and square dancing.
* Quality corn, crop breeding for farmers. September 11 from this topic will be covered at Full Circle Farm hosted by Don Adams and Nan Bonfils, 1579 P. Ave., Madrid. Topics include organic breeding project nursery, new breeding crosses made for protein quality and quantity; white corn breeding materials; simultaneous selection in organic and in conventional systems; seed quality breeding using screened, white, high-protein lines; demonstration of breeding progress in various populations.
Seeds and Breeds - What does it mean for agriculture? That is another presentation that will be delivered by Kendall Lamkey, ISU Agronomy.
* Grazing as cost-effective conservation. On September 24 from to , this field day is hosted by Linda and Ron Grice at South English. It will cover conservation topics. Demonstrations include land use and streambank erosion study and long-term trends in Midwest soil quality. â€œGreen Lands, Blue Waters: Getting perennials on the landscape,â€ will be presented by John Sellers, coordinator of the Iowa Grassland Agriculture Program for the Leopold Center.
Also discussed will be economic comparison of row crop, grazing and grazing/organic systems; cost-effective grazing; and a pasture walk.
* Breeding and selecting corn for quality. On September 27 at Mike Natvig and Amy Miller, 20074 Timber Ave., Cresco, will host this field day.
Discussions include performance and protein level of experimental hybrids; comparing variety crosses; breeding crosses between elite inbred lines and high-yielding exotic populations with good grain quality were crossed with each of three breeding crosses that have been the source of useful inbred lines.
Also discussed will be amino acid levels in high-protein variety crosses in conventional and organic production systems; and comparing the highest yielding corn varieties from the 2004 trial.
* Corn harvest festival, alternative swine. On October 1 from Gary Laydon and Pat Mennenga, 1609 - 130th St., Plainfield, will host this field day.
At you can see an external wood-fired heater for farrowing barn; and update on the SARE Research Alliance for Farrowing Project.
At the topic is breeding corn for quality; corn variety trial; pigs on pasture; and pasture hut designs. From , there will be hand corn picking "tryouts." Pitch in and see how you do harvesting a corn variety that's especially adapted to handpicking.