Conference is February 14-15, 2018, Bigwood Events Center, Fergus Falls, Minn.
Registration opens at noon and conference begins promptly at 1 p.m. Feb. 14, with pre-conference sessions prior to that.
Exhibitor & Sponsor Application HERE.
Wed., Feb. 14, 2018
PRE-CONFERENCE SESSIONS (for scholarship recipients and those wanting additional info or an exclusive opportunity with Dr. Kris Nichols)
9:00 – 11:45 A.M.
Intro to Soil Health with Kent Solberg
Open to all conference attendees; required for scholarship recipients. This is an entry-level course geared toward newcomers to the principles of soil health.
9:30 – 11:30 A.M.
“Chat with Kris @ MSHS”
Separate registration required; limited ticket availability.
Dr. Kris Nichols, nationally renowned soil health scientist
(more info on Dr. Nichols below).
NOON Exhibits Open
Attendees: lunch on your own; Working lunch for PDP scholarship recipients.
1 P.M. – MAIN CONFERENCE BEGINS
DR. KRIS NICHOLS
Dr. Kris Nichols is a world-renowned leader in the movement to regenerate soils for healthy food, healthy people and a healthy planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural production, sequestering carbon in soil, and providing abundant and nutritious food. Dr. Nichols was the Chief Scientist at Rodale Institute from July 2014-January 2018 where she oversaw approximately fifteen research trials on organic agriculture, including the Farming Systems Trial®, the longest-running side-by-side U.S. study comparing conventional chemical agriculture with organic, biologically-based methods.
Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Nichols was a Research Soil Microbiologist with the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in North Dakota for 11 years and a Biological Laboratory Technician with ARS in Beltsville, Md., for three years. Kris received Bachelor of Science degrees in Plant Biology and in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota in 1995, a Master’s degree in Environmental Microbiology from West Virginia University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland in 2003. Her research and professional achievements have focused on the impacts of cropping and grazing systems on soil microbiology, nutrient cycling, and soil aggregation to improve soil health and water quality.
Her most recent work involves mycorrhizal fungi and the investigation of glomalin – a substance produced by AM fungi. Glomalin contributes to nutrient cycling by protecting AM hyphae transporting nutrients from the soil to the plant and to soil structure and plant health by helping to form and stabilize soil aggregates. Kris has been examining the impacts of organic management practices such as crop rotation, tillage practices, cover crops, and livestock grazing on soil aggregation, water relationships, and glomalin as ways to improve economic and environmental sustainability by increasing soil health and resiliency in plant production. In recognition of her work, Dr. Nichols has received several awards including the 2012 Conservation Research Award from the International Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Don Reicosky, USDA soil scientist, retired
3 P.M. – DISCUSSION TABLES/EXHIBITS
Discussion Tables: Dr. Nichols, Don Reicosky
3:30 P.M. – DR. ANN JOURNEY, ‘Confessions of a Formerly Conventional Agricultural Entomologist: If I’d Known Then What I Know Now’
Dr. Ann Marie Journey will address the difference between soil and dirt in the context of a corn agroecosystem. Living soil is defined by its organic matter, which drives microbial activity, nutrient cycling and water holding capacity, as well as mitigating erosion and compaction. Hear how a formerly conventional agricultural entomologist came to understand that treating soil like dirt could make pest management more difficult, and learn about the Minnesota Soil Health Initiative. Ann is the Soil Health Coordinator (ACES) with USDA-NRCS in St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as Minneapolis Team Leader for the Hennepin County Wetland Health Evaluation Program. She received a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and History from the University of Wisconsin, a Master of Science in Zoology from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Minnesota. Her research focused on corn rootworm, and included studies of conventional insecticides, biological control and ecological evaluations of transgenic, herbicide-tolerant and rootworm-resistant corn.
4:15 P.M. – DR. SHARON WEYERS, ‘Engaging Producers in Soil Health through Collaboration and Research’
According to Dr. Sharon Weyers,Research Soil Scientist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Morris, Minn., “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Engaging producers in soil health and alternative management practices comes by speaking the language of the land, rather than the language of the lab. This presentation addresses why soil health test results aren’t as transparent as traditional soil fertility tests. It will engage participants in reading the landscape to interpret differences at the farm level as well as farm to farm differences. Outcomes from alternative management practices applied in the West Central Minnesota region will be addressed.
Dr. Weyers received a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Georgia researching interactions between earthworms, soil microbes and nutrient cycling. She applies expertise in soil ecology to evaluate soil health, environmental quality and ecosystem services. Her research contributes to the development of sustainable land use systems by determining benefits of conservation management practices including reduced tillage, cover crops, diverse rotations, perennial systems, organic management, and livestock integration.
6-8:30 P.M. – SOCIAL HOUR & SUPPER
- Interview with Drs. Kris Nichols & Justin Morris, “The Social Implications of Soil Health,” emceed by Kent Solberg.
- Exhibitor Showcase
- Cash bar
Thurs., Feb. 15, 2018
8 A.M. – JUSTIN MORRIS, ‘Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health’
Justin Morris has been serving as Regional Soil Health Specialist for the Soil Health Division of the Natural Resources Conservation Service since October 2015. Based out of the Madison area of Wisconsin, Justin travels throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota to provide education and training on soil health while specializing in managed grazing.
Prior to serving in his present position, Justin served as Pasture Specialist for NRCS in western Montana, Rangeland Specialist in southwestern Montana and southwestern Utah, Soil Conservationist in western Oregon, and as Agriculture Extension agent in northwest Montana.
8:45 A.M. – DOUG LANDBLOM, ‘Beef Grazing Synergy Between Crops, Cattle and Soil Health in Western North Dakota’
Doug Landblom is the NDSU Dickinson Research Extension Center’s Beef Cattle Specialist whose primary research focus is in beef cattle systems. Landblom has always sought practical methods to reduce input cost without sacrificing animal performance. Having personal experience with cattle finishing in custom yards, he saw a need to study retained ownership in a vertically integrated business plan that integrated beef cattle production into a diverse crop rotation. Farmers and ranchers didn’t want to buy into such thinking; people said, “selling calves off the cow for an awesome price was good and backgrounding cattle all winter was not to their liking.” Besides, grain prices were skyrocketing and backgrounding/finishing budgets didn’t make sense. When a new wave of research opened up to study cover crops, soil health, and beef cattle production, his research focus changed. His goal over the last six years has been to identify the complementing holistic potential to improve soil quality through an alternative integrated grazing-based production system that generates income from cash crops (spring wheat and sunflowers) and beef income from yearling steers grazing annual forages in a diverse cropping system.
9:30 A.M. – DISCUSSION TABLES/EXHIBITS
Discussion Tables: Doug Landblom, Justin Morris, Ann Journey, Sharon Weyers
10 A.M. – CONSERVATION INNOVATION GRANT/PASTURE PROJECT FARMER PANEL
Hear about the Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) research project results involving SFA and partners Land Stewardship Project and Practical Farmers of Iowa. This research measured changes to soil health with the use of cover crops, diverse species and managed grazing.
This will be the first release of the research results. Panelists:
- Grant & Dawn Breitkreutz, Redwood Falls, Minn.
- Scott Haase, Blue Earth, Minn.
- Dan Jenniges, Glenwood, Minn.
- Allen Deutz, Marshall, Minn.
- Pete Huff, Program Officer, Wallace Center at Winrock International
- Robin Moore, Land Stewardship Project
- Dr. Allen Williams, Grazing and Soil Health Expert
- Kent Solberg, SFA Livestock & Grazing Specialist
11 A.M. – DAVE BARTOK, Quorum Labs
“Meta-genomic analysis of soil”
NOON – LUNCH/EXHIBITS
1 P.M. – CODY NELSON & JIM WULF
Cody Nelson is the Western Region Business Development Manager Prairie Creek Seed, and has been involved with utilizing practical pasture management and cover crops for many years. He also has extensive experience with beef cattle operations. Cody acheived his Associate of Applied Science in Beef Production from Kirkwood Community College.
Jim Wulf runs Wulf Genetics/Clear Springs Cattle Company, a multi-generational beef operation in Pope County, Minn. The farm family includes Jim and Twyla Wulf and their 2 sons, Travis and Brady. Five years ago, Wulf purchased a farm in Pope County. Since then the farm has grown into 1,400 acres of crop and pastureland.
1:45 P.M. – DISCUSSION TABLES/EXHIBITS
Discussion Tables with Jim Wulf, Cody Nelson, Dave Bartok, and CIG Farmer Panel
2:15 P.M. – DR. ALLEN WILLIAMS, ‘The Three Principles of Regenerative Farm Management’
Dr. Allen Williams is a champion of the grass-fed beef industry as well as a leader in cutting edge grazing methodology. Dr. Williams is a sixth-generation family farmer and holds BS, MS degrees in Agriculture from Clemson University and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State. He spent 15 years in academia in research, teaching, and extension, and has written more than 300 peer-reviewed and popular press articles. In 2000, he left academia and began working with farmers and ranchers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South America. Dr. Williams currently serves as Chairman of the Association of Family Farms, Co-Chair of the Grassfed Exchange, Co-Project Leader of the Pasture Project, Facilitator in the USDA BFRDP EET program, and lead investigator in soil microbial research as a replacement for chemical fertilizers. This will be his fourth MSHS appearance; he has also helped lead many SFA grazing and soil health field days over the past few years, including our popular summer “Dirt Rich” series.