Prairie Earth Field Day- Sept. 8th

priairie earth field day


A field day showcasing on-farm agricultural research projects, cover crop systems, and insights from a farm lender will take place on Tuesday, September 8th at PrairiErth Farm just outside of Atlanta. The field day aims to examine issues at the forefront of 21st century farming and provide farmers with the knowledge they need to make successful business decisions for the future.

PrairiErth farm is a 300 acre certified organic family farm owned and operated by Dave Bishop, his son Hans Bishop and Hans’s wife Katie Bishop. Corn, soybeans, oats, alfalfa, and hay, along with a large variety of vegetables, 40 head of pasture-raised beef, heritage pork, and free-range chickens and eggs are all raised on the grounds. In addition to using only organic and sustainable methods on their farm, PrairiErth also works with a number of colleges and organizations to further efforts to improve sustainable farming and increase education in this field. As such, a number of research projects are continually taking place on the farm and their findings could play a major role in contributing to the use of sustainable agricultural practices. The research projects include bird and insect count studies, food forests, and the effects of cover crops on soil health. In addition, attendees will learn about the most profitable types of farming systems according to Ag Lending services, and will hear from the owner of the farm, Dave Bishop, about adding value to farm products through diversity. The following speakers will be highlighted:

Dr. Sam Wortman – University of Illinois Crop Science Professor. He and his graduate students will discuss “Keystone Cover Crop Species – Understanding the Relative Contribution of Individual Species to Soil Health”, a research project in its second year at the farm.

Dr. Anthony Yannarell – University of Illinois, is a microbial ecologist interested in understanding the interactions between plants, soil, and microorganisms. “My research seeks to understand: 1) how different kinds of cover crops lead to different levels of weed suppression; 2) how weed suppression and soil nitrogen pools change over time following green manuring; 3) which soil microorganisms actively contribute to weed suppression, green manure processing, and nitrogen release.”

Richard Ritter – has 30 years of Ag Lending experience with a combination of farm credit, and two rural community banks. He has focused on helping young farmers get started, helping existing farmers get through tough times, and to help all his farmers adapt and “farm with a future.”

Casandra Wilcoxen – Graduate Student at the University of Illinois, is conducting bird point count surveys, butterfly and bee transect survey, and setting insect traps on this farm as well as other farms in central Illinois. She is hoping that her research will help farmers know which conservation practices are most beneficial to wildlife.

Liz Pegg, MS – manager of the farm’s SARE funded, “Food Forest Project” will discuss what has been learned in the 3 year permaculture research project, including the role of cover crops in fertility, pest control, and attracting bees and other beneficial insects. Dave Bishop – farm owner, will talk about farming systems currently in use at PrairiErth Farm

This unique field day will be take place at 9 a.m. to noon with lunch included. The event will be held just 4 miles south/east of Atlanta, Illinois (or one half mile west of PrairieErth Farm on 2000th Blvd.) Interested parties can RSVP to Illinois Stewardship Alliance. Phone: 217-528-1563, Email: