t's been two decades since Ron and Maria Rosmann began transitioning their west central Iowa farm to organic. Their crops — soybeans, corn, alfalfa, turnips, grasses, oats, rye and other small grains — were certified organic in 1994. Their 90 stock cows and 650 broiler chickens followed in 1997, while their 20 antibiotic-free Berkshire sows are "natural pork."
Except for seed staining in their soybeans — transmitted by bean leaf beetles — and aphids and leafhoppers in their alfalfa, Rosmann Family Farms are bothered by few pests. While most of their neighbors have readily switched to "biotech" varieties, the Rosmanns' corn and soybean yields, over a 20-year average, are at least as high as the county's.
"Things are working well here and there's got to be a reason — and it's not just one," says Rosmann. "We look at it as a whole system."
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