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Registration is open for Practical Farmers’ 2018 annual conference

AMES – Practical Farmers of Iowa is now accepting registrations for its 2018 annual conference, “Revival,” which will take place Jan. 19-20 at the Iowa State Center Scheman Building, on the Iowa State University campus in Ames. All are welcome to attend. New this year, a special conference website was created to make information easier to find and access. Learn more and register online at http://pficonference.org.

This year’s theme of “Revival” emphasizes the degree to which healthy soils, extended crop rotations, diverse forms of agriculture and abundant opportunities for the next generation are vitally connected with thriving rural communities, healthy ecosystems and vibrant rural economies. 

Attendees will hear practical insights from their farming peers about ways to integrate cover crops; conserve money and soil; grow and market a range of crops and livestock; increase stewardship; plan for their farm’s future and more. As part of the focus on reviving Iowa’s rural landscape, attendees will have opportunities to strategize ways to create markets and infrastructure for small-grains and cover-crop industries, and discuss how to bring fruit, vegetable and livestock farms – and the resulting healthy food and jobs – back to Iowa’s small communities.

The conference attracted more than 900 farmers, researchers and supporters last year. Conference highlights include: 

• A keynote address by English farmer and bestselling author James Rebanks, who raises native Herdwick and Swaledale sheep and a British cattle breed called Blue Greys, in the mountains of northern England. James is author of The New York Times bestselling memoir “The Shepherd’s Life,” and is a passionate advocate for heritage breeds of livestock and crops, and of farming in the tried-and-tested older ways that have roots in his landscape dating back 4,000 to 5,000 years.

• Fifty-four sessions on topics that span the agricultural spectrum, from production to marketing, farm transfer to business planning, conservation to advocacy. Some sessions are planned specifically for landowners, non-farmers and beginning farmers.

• An in-depth pre-conference short course devoted to soils, from the basics of soil health to the science behind it. The course – “Soils: Cultivating a Deeper Understanding” – is divided into four sections that will explore the soils of Iowa; the role and influence of soil microbes; the impact of cropping systems and strategies for building soil health; and biological soil-quality testing methods.

• New this year, certified crop advisor credits will be offered for nine sessions and the short course.

• Many opportunities to network and build relationships with other farmers, researchers, consumers and sponsors – including during the free breakfast served on Saturday morning.

• Presentation of PFI’s 2017 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award.

Walk-in registration is permitted, but those who pre-register by the Jan. 11 deadline will save $10 per day. Special rates are also available for students and PFI members. Register online at http://pficonference.org, or contact Erica Andorf at erica@practicalfarmers.org or 515-232-5661. 

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