2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1)Coordinate collaboration between farmers, and USDA-ARS and Michael Fields Agricultural Institute researchers to research, select, produce and test improved corn varieties for sustainable agriculture; 2)Organize farmer-to-farmer networking and educational opportunities through on-farm research, field days and yearly meetings; and 3)Provide farmer cooperators a platform to increase awareness and interest about the use of and the need for these corn varieties.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
PFI will interact with a team including USDA-ARS, ISU scientists, and MFAI. PFI will identify farmer cooperators in coordination with MFAI, who will work with technicians and researchers to prepare field test sites and begin selecting corn varieties on-farm. Researchers will train farmer cooperators in on-farm selection techniques and requirements for test-site preparation. PFI will organize a winter meeting specifically focused to update stakeholders of the project on breeding accomplishments, variety improvements, and tasks for the following year. PFI will organize summer field days to demonstrate the different varieties and have farmers present field research findings about variety comparisons. PFI will facilitate on-farm research from design to implementation to analysis of results. Additionally, PFI will continue to coordinate seed increases and feeding trials. We will work closely with ISU Animal Science department and local feed mills to formulate and test new diets using these corn varieties. All data will be consolidated, interpreted, summarized and published in PFI publications, on the PFI website, and in the media. Finally, PFI will create partial budgets of the production of this maize and the potential for feeding it to poultry.
This is the final report for this project. Over the 5 year life of the project, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) helped recruit locations for organic corn breeding test sites for USDA experiments. For example, locations in 2013 include: McCallsburg, Iowa, Polk City, Iowa and Jefferson, Iowa. PFI developed the capacity for organic corn variety testing by organizing the United States Testing Network (USTN). For example, in 2013, materials from two organic farmers, who had used lines produced by the Agricultural Research Service, entered their materials into the USTN trials. PFI implemented the restructured fee structure and had good response from members who test in the USTN. The number of organic locations increased this year to 14 with 72 corn entries being tested across those locations. PFI also partnered with Organic Valley asking all location managers to take soil samples near corn planting. Those soil samples will be sent for testing of organic matter levels and other soil quality parameters.
PFI organized field days and meetings that facilitated communication among farmers and researchers who are interested in sustainable agricultural practices. These include:
• 09/12/2008 Panora, Iowa, Field Day (Corn Breeding, Foliar Sprays, Aerial Seeding)
• 12/10/2009 Chicago, Illinois, Stakeholder Meeting
• 02/11/2010 Ames, Iowa, Stakeholder Meeting
• 02/27/2010 La Crosse, Wisconsin, Stakeholder Meeting
• 08/01/2010 Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Field Day (Improving Open Pollinated Corn, and Abbe Hills Farm Open House)
• 09/17/2010 River Falls, Wisconsin, Field Day
• 09/23/2010 Ames, Iowa, Field Day (Corn Breeders and Seed Retailers Showcase)
• 08/01/2010 Ames, Iowa, Selection workshop
• 08/27/2011 Sutherland, Iowa, Field Day (What We Learned about Corn, Soybeans, Canola and More)
• 09/09/2011 River Falls, Wisconsin, Field Day (US Testing Network Breeder and Retailers’ Showcase)
• 09/13/2011 Ames, Iowa, Field Day (Farming Profitably, Staying Diverse)
• 12/08/2011 Chicago, Illinois, Stakeholder Meeting
• 18-21/01/2012 Port Townsend, Washington, Presentation at the Organic Seed Alliance Conference
• 02/07/2012 Ames, Iowa, Stakeholder Meeting
• 07/07/2012 McCallsburg, Iowa, Field Day (Organic Crops, CSP and Free-Range Eggs)
• 09/13/2012 Jefferson, Iowa, Field Day (Improving Organics: Small Grains, Flame-Weeding, and Corn Hybrids)
• 09/14/2012 River Falls, Wisconsin, Field Day (US Testing Network Breeders’ Showcase)