Farmer envisions book he'd write about starting farming

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

DES MOINES -- Some; day Meadow Grove, Neb., farmer Todd Stewart plans to write a book.

He'll call it "Don't Do it That Way Stupid." It will be based on his experiences along the road to becoming a profitable organic farmer.

Stewart and farm families from Minnesota and Illinois shared advice they gained while getting started farming or transitioning to more sustainable systems at the recent Practical Farmers of Iowa annual conference in Des Moines.


Chapter one of Stewart's book will be "don't plant beans after plowing alfalfa unless you wait a couple of weeks." This cost him a small field of beans.

Chapter two will detail how "the alleleopathic effect of rye is strongest the first two weeks after disking. It even kills soybean germination.

"That cost me 32 acres of soybeans one year,'' Stewart said.

Chapter three will be: "When in doubt, hoe, even if you think you don't need to. That costs me money every year.''

Chapter four's advice: "If you don't have it, don't spend it. I'm still paying a lot of debt from when I tried to farm like all my neighbors. However, all my vintage 70s equipment is paid for.''

He'll also write chapters on how to make money during organic transition; symptoms and cures for army cutworms in alfalfa; and "how to cope when all the neighbors think you're crazy."

"I continue to learn as I farm, and if I ever write this book I know I'll add numerous other chapters,'' Stewart said.

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