Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program

Welcome to the Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) website! The purpose of this website is to help you find information on SARE local, regional and national programs, grants and resources. It also provides updates on relevant news and events going on in Iowa and affecting Iowa agriculture. Since 1988, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program has advanced profitable and environmentally sound farming systems that are good for communities through a nationwide research and education grants program.

Iowa SARE PDP Program State Initiatives

  • Building Leadership, Communication, and Capacity in Sustainable Agriculture
  • Implementing Diversified Production and Marketing Systems
  • Scaling up and Strengthening Local Foods Systems
  • Addressing Issues in Soil Health, Water Quality, Energy and Climate

Iowans Received NCR SARE Grant Funding in 2017-2018

Professional Development:

  • Training Extension Educators and Local Food Professionals on Sustainable Vegetable Pest Management Tools and Techniques., (Iowa State University) 2017.


  • Establishing the Value of Flower Companions in Cucurbits. (Rob Faux of Genuine Faux Farm in Tripoli, IA) 2018.

Graduate Student:

  • Integration of Poultry and Cover Crops for Soil Health in Vegetable Production. (Iowa State University) 2017.

Research and Education:

  • Growing Profitable, Sustainable Farming Businesses with Beginning Refugee Farmers in Central Iowa (Lutheran Services in Iowa) 2016.


  • Agronomy in the Field: A Women's Cohort for Increasing Capacity of Agronomic and Conservation Principles. (Iowa State University Extension and Outreach) 2017.

Youth Educator:

  • Paddocks, Pastures, and People (Dan Loy of Iowa Beef Industry Center in Ames, IA) 2018
  • Ag Arts Partnership for Southwest Iowa. (Michelle Wodtke Franks of Golden Hills RC&D in Oakland, IA) 2018

You can learn more about the progress of these projects later this year and previous projects funded through SARE by searching the SARE data base at:

New Organic Management Resource Available

SARE’s new Organic Production topic room assists organic producers who are struggling to manage pests, fertility and tillage in compliance with stringent organic standards. Including a wide range of free materials developed by SARE, SARE grant recipients and experts in the field, Organic Production addresses:

●   Pest Management: Use pest life cycles and biological factors to influence pest growth and management.
●   Whole Systems: Manage your organic operation as an integrated, whole system.
●   Seeds: Grow and save your own organic seeds.
●   Fertility Management: Optimize fertility using cover crops, manure, crop rotation and organic fertilizers.
●   Certification: Understand USDA certification, agencies, regulations and cost.
●   ...and more!

Please note: Organic Production includes some resources containing practices and suggestions that may not align with USDA organic certification requirements. Users should read carefully and always check with their organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials.

Now Available:
2017 National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health Presentations

Videos and presentations from the 2017 National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health sessions are now available. Held December 7-8, 2017 in Indianapolis, the conference highlighted insights from some of the nation's most innovative producers, conservation leaders and scientists on using cover crops to improve soil health.

Breakout session presentations address cover crops basicsadvanced cover cropping insights from farmers, soil healththe role of cover crops in cropping systems and more. Browse a complete list of available videos and presentations here.

Our Farms Our Future Podcast: Dry Farming

Posted: May 7, 2018

In this new episode of the Our Farms, Our Future Podcast, Garrett, an assistant professor at Oregon State University, and Rosmann, an Iowa farmer, discuss how water trends and patterns impact agriculture in their regions. “We had a drought in 2015 and a lot of people who were used to irrigating throughout the summer had their water restricted as early as June,” says Garrett. “So for vegetable growers that are used to irrigating through September, that was like, ‘Okay, we have to look at alternatives.’”

Of water challenges in Iowa, Rosmann states, “Our annual rainfall is up to about 34 inches now. Growing up it was down around 31 inches, but in the last 50 years that’s increased. The winters are getting significantly warmer and the summers are actually getting cooler.”

Listen to learn now Garret and Rosmann deal with water challenges.

Upcoming Events in Iowa:


2016-17 Cover Crop Survey Report is Available

Since SARE and the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) began their annual cover crop survey in 2012, there has been a steady increase in cover crop acreage among participants. In this year’s survey, farmers said they committed an average of 400 acres each to cover crops in 2016, up from 217 acres per farm in 2012. They expected to increase their cover crop planting in 2017 to an average of 451 acres. 

This marks the fifth consecutive year in which the survey reported yield increases in corn and soybeans following cover crops. It is the first year the survey team was able to calculate the impact of cover crops on wheat yields.

Following the use of cover crops, farmers reported increased yields of corn, soybeans and wheat, and improvement in the control of herbicide-resistant weeds, according to a nationwide survey. In addition, the survey of 2,012 farmers showed acreage planted in cover crops has nearly doubled over the past five years.

Survey participants—88 percent of whom use cover crops—reported that after cover crops:

  • Corn yields increased an average of 2.3 bushels per acre, or 1.3 percent;
  • Soybean yields increased 2.1 bushels per acre, or 3.8 percent;
  • Wheat yields  increased 1.9 bushels per acre, or 2.8 percent.

        Download the full report.