Practical Farmers Invite You To Field Days

Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy, new ways to raise corn and soybeans, and what Iowa farmers have learned about canola production are some of the topics. PFI field days are free and public is invited.

Published on: Aug 22, 2011

A dairy farm near Fairfield in southeast Iowa will host a field day to show the public how this farm is replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. Francis and Susan Thicke invite the public to attend this Practical Farmers of Iowa event at their farm on Saturday, August 27, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

This free event will feature a wagon tour of the Thicke farm's 60-paddock grazing system and a walk through of their on-farm dairy processing facilities.

Kelly Tobin
Kelly Tobin

Emphasis of the field day will be on the renewable energy systems in place and planned for the farm as well as a general discussion of potential systems to make Iowa farms energy self-sufficient. Gregg Heide, an expert on wind energy, will help lead this discussion. They will also briefly discuss the practice of applying raw milk to pastures.

Solar energy, wind turbines, geothermal heating and cooling topics

About the Thicke Farm: Radiance Dairy is a 450-acre, 80-cow, organic, grass-based dairy in which the milk produced is processed on the farm into bottled milk, yogurt and cheese, and marketed locally. The Thickes use a solar-thermal system for preheating hot water, a solar-powered water-pumping system, a geothermal heating-and-cooling system and a natural-convection cooling system on their farm. A 33kW wind turbine is planned for erection in 2011.

"Fossil Fuels will become more scarce and expensive in coming years," Francis says. "In preparation, we are trying to make our farm more energy-efficient and self-sufficient." This event is free and open to the public as are more than 30 other field days being hosted in 2011 by PFI and its members. For a copy of the 2011 Field Day Guide, call the PFI office at 515.232.5661 or download a printable PDF at http://practicalfarmers.org/events/field-days.html.

Directions to the Thicke Farm: From Hwy 34, take exit 210 to Burlington Ave. Go one mile on Burlington Ave. Turn left (north) onto Brookville Rd. Go three miles to Radiance Dairy at 1745 Brookville Road.

Northwest Iowa farmers will share what they've learned about crops

Near Sutherland in northwest Iowa, Paul and Karen Mugge invite the public to attend a Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day at their farm, Saturday, August 27, from 1 to 4 p.m. This free event will highlight a number of on-farm research projects the Mugges have conducted in an attempt to improve their profitability and environmental stewardship. They will share data from an aphid-resistant soybean research trial that has been underway on the farm for two years now.                              

Guest speakers will include Eric Clifton, ISU graduate assistant in entomology; Stefans Gailans, ISU graduate assistant in agronomy; Erin Hodgson, ISU Extension professor of entomology; Matt O'Neal, ISU professor of entomology; and Mary Wiedenhoeft, ISU professor of agronomy.

They will be sharing information and answering questions about organic and non-GMO corn hybrids, non-GMO aphid-resistant versus susceptible soybean varieties, and adding winter canola into the farming rotation. Learn about making ridge till work for you and how farming systems affect water infiltration and soil quality data as they review a second year of results from a study that collected data from several farms across Iowa. Finally, hear preliminary results from a study comparing Entomopathogenic fungi amounts in organic versus conventional farms' soils.  Stay afterward for snacks and additional discussion.

"I'm looking forward to a good discussion with other farmers and to learning from one another," says Paul Mugge. "We will hear about what's working for organic farmers in other parts of the state. This should give us some new ideas for a third rotation that provides both yield and price, and can make us a good profit." 

About the Mugges' Farm: The Mugges farm is a 500-acre organically certified farm. Rotation consists of corn, soybean, small grains and some legumes. Oats, barley and canola are current small grains in the rotation. The first field was certified in 2000. Directions: Go north out of Cherokee on Hwy 59. Pass through the town of Calumet. At the corner of Hwy 10 and 59, turn left. Head west to the first farm on the right side (north side) of the highway. Look for the PFI sign.

Cover crop management is focus of Aug. 30 field day in southwest Iowa

Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa will co-sponsor a field day at the Kelly Tobin farm near New Market in Taylor County in southwest Iowa on Tuesday Aug. 30, featuring a discussion of cover crop management.

The field day runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and includes a complimentary evening meal with beef grilled by the Taylor County Cattlemen. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.

Field day attendees will hear from farmers Kelly Tobin and Paul Ackley of Bedford, about their experiences incorporating cover crops into their corn and soybean rotations. Other speakers include: Tom Kaspar, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment at Iowa State University in Ames, who will discuss cover crop management; Iowa State University graduate student Jose Pantoja, who will talk about his research with nitrogen rates in corn following a winter rye cover crop; and ISU agricultural and biosystems engineer Mark Hanna, who will discuss planter adaptations for planting into cover crops.

Farmers and researchers will share their cover crop experiences

Attendees are encouraged to bring their families to see the Conservation Station — a mobile learning lab that teaches audiences of all ages about the importance of soil and water quality. The back of the Conservation Station houses a rainfall simulator, demonstrating the effects of rainfall on undisturbed soils with a variety of land covers, showing both surface water runoff as well as subsurface drainage. At the front is a learning center with displays and activities to learn about soil and water quality. Kids who attend the field day can become members of the "conservation pack" by participating in the Conservation Station's activities.

Tobin is a longtime no-till farmer who began using cover crops two years ago as part of the Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa Learning Farms cover crop management working group. He is one of 10 farmers in this group planting corn or soybean into side-by-side, replicated field length strips with and without winter rye planted the previous fall.

The Tobin farm is located at 2056 Forest Ave., northeast of New Market. From Gravity, travel west on County Road J35; just after crossing the river bridge, turn right onto Forest Ave. From New Market go north through New Market, one mile to J35. Turn right and travel 3.5 miles east on J35 to Forest Ave.