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Farmer Talk: Growing Knowledge and Community in Iowa

Vic Madsen of Audubon has converted his farming operation to 100 percent organic. (PFI)
Vic Madsen of Audubon has converted his farming operation to 100 percent organic. (PFI)
December 13, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa – Hundreds of Iowa farmers are gearing up for the next growing season armed with new knowledge and support systems. Practical Farmers of Iowa recently wrapped up its on-farm field day season, during which hundreds of growers and producers rubbed elbows, shared research and learned from one another.

Vic Madsen, owner of the Madsen Stock Farm in Audubon, said this type of farmer-to-farmer education is beneficial and helps build the farming community.

"There's kind of a trust factor where, over time, you kind of figure out who shares your values as far as soil conservation and the soil health," he explained. "There's just something unique about farmer talk."

He added that thanks to the advice of others in Practical Farmers, his operation transformed from 100 percent conventional to nearly completely organic. According to PFI, three in four farmers at the field day events said they are considering a change to production practices as a result of attending.

Madsen is among the keynote speakers at PFI's upcoming conference in January. He said that with so many new tricks and techniques always emerging in agriculture, it's tough to know what will work and what will fail. And that's one of the reasons he'll be talking about why Iowa farmers should pass on their knowledge to the next generation.

"You can learn so much from everybody else's mistakes that you don't have to make them yourself," he said. "I think more people are realizing that and looking a little more before they leap."

Several dozen other farmers will also share their experiences at the conference on topics including business production and conservation issues. The event will be held in Ames on January 20th and 21st.

Mary Kuhlman/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - IA