Next Soil Health Webinar is April 3 with Dr. Shannon Osbourne

KCIM Keep Cattle in MinnesotaOur next free Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinar is set for 1-2:30 p.m. April 3 and will feature Dr. Shannon Osbourne of ARS in Brookings, S.D.

Dr. Osborne is a Research Agronomist with the US Dept of Agricultural-Agricultural Research Service whose research focuses on understanding how soil and crop management options influence the soil environment and how these practices can be developed into production systems that maintain or improve our soil resource conservation and environmental quality, while providing production efficiency.

This webinar is free and open to all. Click here to register.

Dr. Osborne’s presentation will focus on the impact of crop diversity, no-till, cover crops and residue removal on soil health properties, including soil physical properties and their interaction with soil biological properties. Specific information will included how crop diversity and cover crops impact soil aggregation, carbon and components of soil organic matter.

For more information on these and all SFA KCIM webinars, visit our Keep Cattle in Minnesota homepage. These webinars are presented with support by The Pasture Project.

Our two previous webinars, including the most recent from March 6, ”Strategies for Implementing Cover Crops,” led by Livestock & Grazing Specialist Kent Solberg, are also archived on our KCIM homepage.

New SFA Resource Now Available: Beginning Grazier Handbook

Grazier handbook LOGODesigned to assist the beginning grazier in designing and implementing a grazing system, our new Beginning Grazier Handbook is a starting place to quickly and easily find pertinent information. Most of the resources listed include website links for additional interest-specific grazing information.

The Handbook includes:

  • Technical assistance – a list of “go-to” people who can provide advice to help you achieve a successful grazing system.
  • Information on training, educational opportunities, mentors, networks, and organizations to help you gain knowledge of grazing and grazing systems.
  • Production resources that provide you with reading materials on grazing systems.
  • Farm business planning information that helps farmers understand the business side of grazing – recordkeeping, business planning, and marketing opportunities of your products.
  • Where to go in Minnesota for loans and grants to help with financing the infrastructure needed for a grazing system.

In the appendices are lists of businesses that supply equipment and seeds for grazing systems. Use this list to find suppliers and negotiate the best value when purchasing. The goal of the handbook was to provide information; listing does not mean we endorse any of these suppliers.


Click here to download the SFA Beginning Grazier Handbook.

This handbook was compiled by SFA as part of the Keep Cattle in Minnesota Project, with support from the Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Pasture Project.

SFA Soil Health Webinar a Success; Next is April 3

KCIM Keep Cattle in MinnesotaNearly 75 folks registered for our free Keep Cattle in Minnesota webinar, “Strategies for Implementing Cover Crops,” led by Livestock & Grazing Specialist Kent Solberg on March 6.

The webinar is archived on our Keep Cattle in Minnesota homepage.

As Kent discussed in the webinar, cover crops are a powerful tool farmers can use to improve soil health. Specifically, cover crops aid in keeping soil covered, add diversity to the rotation, keep a living root in the soil, and serve as the “bridge” between cropping systems and integration of livestock.

Kent reviewed the principles of building soil health and integration of cover crops, and he discussed real-world examples of how adding cover crops to your farm can move you toward productivity and profitability.

This webinar is the second in a series of KCIM webinars SFA has planned. Others are slated forApril 3 and Nov. 6; keep watching SFA Connect for details about all upcoming KCIM webinars and programming.

For more information, visit our Keep Cattle in Minnesota homepage.

These webinars are made possible thanks to The Pasture Project. 

Deep Roots Class: Intro to Small Ruminant Husbandry

IMG_1993Anyone considering adding goats or sheep to their sustainable food production system or those who want to manage their small ruminants more holistically should attend our SFA Deep Roots class, Intro to Small Ruminant Husbandry, 1-5 p.m. Sat., May 16, 2015, Paradox Farm, 11643 State Highway 78, Ashby, Minn. (ten miles south of Battle Lake; seven miles north of Ashby)

Deep RootsThis course provides students opportunity for hands-on work with sheep and goats. In a working-farm setting, students can learn how small ruminants can fit into a natural systems farm. Course topics include: holistic management, ruminant nutrition, animal handling, fencing, grazing strategies, holistic veterinary care, shelters, weight and age estimation. Wear clothing appropriate for working with animals: closed-toe shoes, gloves, long pants.

Cost is $80 and space is limited. To register, click here. 

From the Executive Director: Networking at its Finest

John Mesko

John Mesko

By John Mesko

At the 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit, our speakers had discussion tables during the breaks, where participants could sit down in a group and visit one on one with each other and with our speakers. Our keynote speaker, Gabe Brown, hosted a very popular discussion table, and we were able to record most of the discussion with everyone at the table.

Gabe fielded a number of questions ranging from practical cover crop issues, to building soil health without livestock, dealing with neighbors, getting started in farming, seed companies, watering cattle in winter.

This is the kind of farmer networking SFA is promoting. As you’ll hear on this recording, farmers asking questions, feeding off of each other’s questions, and farmers asking each other questions.

You can listen to the recording at SFA’s Farm Solutions Podcast Page. Check it out, and if you have questions you’d like to see addressed on the Farm Solutions Podcast, send them to

Also at the Summit, we held our first ever International Roundtable. About 20 people attended. The importance of this event is in looking at how we can take the soil health building production models developed here in the Midwest and find ways to adapt them for broad application world-wide. Notes from the International Roundtable are available online.

This really is the power of a network. Speakers like Gabe tell us our approach is unique and beneficial. The Midwest Soil Health Summit is a great example.