Eleven farms have been selected to receive the first Practical Farmers of Iowa Master Researcher awards. Practical Farmers of Iowa will recognize the Master Researchers at the annual PFI Cooperators' Meeting on Thursday, February 7, 2013, in Ames, Iowa.
On-farm research is at the heart of Practical Farmers of Iowa's farmer-to-farmer organization -- the Cooperators' Program gives farmers practical answers to questions they have about on-farm challenges through research, recordkeeping, and demonstration projects. The Master Researcher award is new this year and was created as a way to recognize the efforts of those who have conducted extensive on-farm research and demonstration. The recognized farms have each conducted 20 or more on-farm research trials and hosted at least five Practical Farmers field days to share the knowledge gained over the years.
Every farm is different, you cannot buy the answers in a bag
Master Researcher Dick Thompson explains, "Using replicated and randomized test strips that run the length of the field and are farmer manageable, has helped us to determine what practices are right for this farm." Thompson and his wife Sharon have conducted 52 research projects on their farm since 1987. "Every farm is different, you cannot buy the answers in a bag," he adds.
Practical Farmers of Iowa member farmers began conducting research as through PFI's Cooperators' Program 1987 with farmers looking to save money through more judicious use of fertilizers and pesticides. Today, PFI has increased its on-farm research projects to include grazing, horticulture, on-farm energy, and food purchasing projects. Since 1987, PFI Cooperators have conducted over 800 experiments on-farm and shared that information with neighbors and other farmers. In 2012, 92 farmers took part in 54 projects.
The 2013 Practical Farmers of Iowa Master Researchers are:
* Dick and Sharon Thompson — Boone, Iowa (Boone County)
* Paul and Karen Mugge — Sutherland, Iowa (O'Brien County)
* Tom and Irene Frantzen — New Hampton, Iowa (Chickasaw County)
* Ron and Maria Rosmann — Harlan, Iowa (Shelby County)
* Dordt College (Ron Vos) — Ireton, Iowa (Sioux County)
* Neely-Kinyon (Bob Burcham) — Atlantic, Iowa (Cass County)
* Jeff and Gayle Olson — Winfield, Iowa (Henry County)
* Doug Alert and Margaret Smith — Hampton, Iowa (Franklin County)
* Don and Sharon Davidson — Grundy Center, Iowa (Grundy County)
* Dave and Lisa Lubben — Monticello, Iowa (Jones County)
* Dan and Lorna Wilson — Paullina, Iowa (O'Brien County)
Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in The PFI network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call 515-232-5661 or visit the PFI website.