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Practical Farmers of Iowa announces 2019 winter farminar series

AMES – Practical Farmers of Iowa will continue its online learning series – called “farminars” – for the 10th winter season in a row beginning Jan. 8 with a presentation on adding prairie strips to farmland. The webinar series features practical knowledge shared by farmers and experts on a wide range of topics for row crop, livestock and fruit and vegetable growers.

Held at 7 p.m. every Tuesday, each farminar focuses on a unique production or business management topic. All presentations are led by an experienced farmer or subject-matter expert, and attendees are able to ask questions in real time using a chat box while they listen and watch a slideshow. The presentations are free for anyone with an internet connection.

Some farminars feature a single farmer or farm couple presenting, while others feature a beginning farmer paired with an expert. For instance, the Feb. 5 presentation,“No-Till Vegetable Production,” is led by experienced farmers Elizabeth and Paul Kaiser, who will speak about their no-till vegetable operation based in Sonoma County, California. Elizabeth and Paul will share details on their field preparation, crop rotation, nursery management, nutrient cycle management and hedgerows, along with the pest and climactic benefits of these approaches.

The following week’s farminar on Feb. 12 will explore a similar topic presented in the second format where a beginning farmer and an expert have a back-and-forth exchange. The farminar, “Ridge-Till Vegetable Production,” will be led by both beginning farmer Jordan Scheibel, and researcher Brian Caldwell from Cornell University. Jordan will share his plans to change the tillage system he uses on his farm near Grinnell, and Brian will share the findings from Cornell University’s Reduced Tillage Organic Vegetables Project and offer specific advice for Jordan’s farm. Jordan and the farminar attendees will be able to ask questions of Brian about ridge-till and other conservation tillage systems for vegetable production.

“My hope is that implementing ridge tillage can help me address long-standing issues on my farm, which have been exacerbated by recent changes in the climate,” Jordan said. “I’m excited to have someone like Brian who has actually experimented with using ridge tillage for vegetables to help evaluate the viability of my approach and give me feedback.”

Other topics featured in the winter farminar series include installing prairie strips forrow crops systems; a trio of grazing topics that include pastured pigs, infrastructure for rotational grazing and technology to help with regenerative grazing; precision-seeded cover crops; and planning for farmland succession.

To participate, visit the PFI website. A schedule for all upcoming farminars – as well as the recordings for 159 past farminars – is also available at this link.

Practical Farmers’ 2019 winter farminars are made possible with funding from the Cedar Tree Foundation; Ceres Trust; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; McKnight Foundation; and the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Conservation Collaboration Grant and Rural Business Development Grants.

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