Wallaces Farmer

Conference will explore production and marketing of oats, wheat, barley, rye and other small-grain crops.

Rod Swoboda

July 13, 2018

3 Min Read
REGISTER NOW: Practical Farmers will hold its second annual small grains conference July 30 to explore growing and marketing these somewhat forgotten crops.

Practical Farmers of Iowa is answering the call for more information, education and resources on small-grain production. PFI is holding several field days devoted to the topic this summer and will hold an upcoming Midwest conference on small grains July 30 at Mankato, Minn.

Practical Farmers is expanding its Iowa work to include areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota, thanks to a Conservation Innovation Grant awarded by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in 2016. The grant funds programming to help farmers add small grains and green-manure legume cover crops to their farming systems.

Attendees at the events learn about a range of issues related to growing small-grains crop, which offer several benefits from economic to environmental. Attendees also benefit from meeting other farmers who are curious about producing or experimenting with these crops, says Alisha Bower, strategic initiatives manager for PFI.

This is the second year Practical Farmers is putting on the conference focused exclusively on small grains. The conference titled “Rotationally Raised — Making Small Grains Work” will be from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Centennial Student Union at Minnesota State University in Mankato.

This year’s event is held in partnership with the Freeborn Area Soil Health Team. The daylong conference will cover a variety of topics related to growing small grains and the benefits of an extended crop rotation, Bower says. The event includes lunch, and features information sessions and an afternoon reception to help connect small-grain buyers and sellers with one another.

Registration is required by July 23. The event is free for PFI members or $40 for non-members. Register online or call PFI at 515-232-5661.

Breakout sessions cover pertinent topics
The conference portion runs from 10 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., with nine breakout sessions throughout the day that will explore the agronomy of successfully raising small grains, integrating livestock with a small-grain operation and marketing small grains. Sessions will include:

 weed control with small grains
 triticale and other small-grain silage for dairy
 how to sell small grains as cover crop seed
 disease identification and management
 green manures
 summer cover crops for grazing and manure management
 starting an on-farm processing enterprise
 feeding small grains to swine
 marketing to breweries

After lunch a session from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. will feature Matt Liebman, professor of agronomy and the Henry A. Wallace Endowed Chair for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, speaking on the benefits of an extended rotation.

A networking reception will be from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. Full conference details (including session and speaker descriptions, driving directions and a map) are online. For questions, contact Alisha Bower at [email protected] or 515-232-5661.

Practical Farmers has also organized several small-grain field days as part of its 2018 field day series where farmers can learn more about the benefits of small grains directly from their farming peers. Two of those upcoming events are:

• July 17. Expanding Conservation With Cover Crops, Livestock and Small Grains, at Dayton, Iowa, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by Kellie and AJ Blair

• Sept. 10. Cover Crops Plus Small Grains Equals a Perfect Pair for Soil Health and Water Quality, at Stanton, Iowa, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., hosted by Mark and Melanie Peterson

A PFI flier summarizes all the small-grains events taking place this summer.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda

Rod Swoboda is a former editor of Wallaces Farmer and is now retired.

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