SFA’s new conference, the Midwest Soil Health Summit, will be held Feb. 19-20, 2014, at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria.
NOTE: Registration has ended. Walk-up registrations are not guaranteed a lunch ticket.
The Summit will convene some of the most innovative farmers and researchers in the Upper Midwest for two days of networking, speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions – all geared at improving the health of your soil.
The keynote speaker will be Gabe Brown of Brown’s Ranch in Burleigh County, N.D. Brown is a pioneer in diverse cover cropping, having used no-till techniques for two decades. His family ranch encompasses 5,400 acres, all managed sustainably and with the goal of building ideal soil health conditions. His pesticide-free cover and companion crop system has allowed the Browns to reduce their use of commercial fertilizer by over 90 percent and the use of herbicides by over 75 percent as well as increase production and profitability.
Following Brown’s address will be a presentation by Richard Bieber, a producer from South Dakota who has been practicing no-till for 27 years and cover cropping for over a decade. Bieber says, “When it comes to soil health, you are speaking directly to my passion.”
Other confirmed speakers include:
- Kent Solberg, SFA Livestock and Grazing Coordinator, will be leading a session on designing and customizing cover crops.
- Wendy Taheri, Research Microbiologist with the North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory, will present on cover cropping and mycorrhizae in soils. Learn more about Wendy here.
- Ryan Stockwell of the National Wildlife Federation will present a session on the financial side of implementing soil health practices on farms, guiding participants through the maze of rules and regulations surrounding crop insurance and the incorporation of cover crops into a farm plan.
- Jay Fuhrer, District Conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Bismarck, N.D., will lead a session on how to make soil health principles work on your farm. “Jay feels his mission in life is to be part of the team that makes this happen. He is the glue that holds this stuff together,” said Solberg. At below right is a video presentation from Fuhrer on innovative no-till.
“Soil health is the basis of agriculture, and agriculture is the basis of a free civilization,” Solberg said. “Planned grazing management, diverse crop rotations, no-till equipment, and complex cover crops are tools that can help us move toward soil health. The land has the ability to heal itself when we provide the chance.”
The first day, Feb. 19, will be focused on networking and start at 6 p.m. with snacks and a cocktail hour as well as a casual presentation by Brown.
Feb. 20 is a full day of programming starting at 8 a.m. and will include Brown’s keynote address, Bieber’s followup presentation, a producer panel, a series of breakout networking sessions, opportunities to interact one-on-one with producers and researchers, and more. Registration begins at 7 a.m. There will be a slate of exhibitors as well; vendors may set up from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 19. Exhibits are open from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 19 and 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Feb. 20.
Cost is $100 for current SFA members and $150 for non-members (Note: When registering, SFA members must choose the “discount” option and enter the code that was sent in a members-only email). If you wish to join SFA and receive the discount code for $50 off registration, click this link to visit our Join page. Once you join SFA, a discount code will be emailed to you. For questions on SFA membership, contact SFA Communications Coordinator Jason Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online registration ends at 5 p.m. Feb. 17. Walk-up registration begins at 6 p.m. Feb. 19 and continues Feb. 20 at Arrowwood on a limited basis. Registration is nonrefundable.
“Broad application of these practices across the landscape would enhance individual farm profitability, and environmental issues associated with intensive row crop production would disappear,” Solberg said. “Most conservation practices require government incentives to be economically viable for the producer. Farms, such as Brown’s Ranch in North Dakota, have demonstrated that economic potential of these techniques when applied as a whole to individual farms is so powerful that government incentives are not necessary.”
The Midwest Soil Health Summit is in addition to SFA’s Annual Conference, which is scheduled for Feb. 8 at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph.
Arrowwood Resort Booking Information
Arrowwood Resort is a family-friendly location with an indoor water park, ice fishing, cross country ski trails, snowmobiling, ice skating, broomball, and more. For more information or to reserve a room, call the resort at 320.762.1124.
Midwest Soil Health Summit attendees should qualify for a reduced rate of $99. Rates quoted are subject to the applicable state taxes currently at 6.875 percent. When you call, request a reservation for the Sustainable Farming Association’s Conference.
All reservations must be guaranteed by one night’s deposit or a major credit card. Hotel will not hold any reservations unless secured by one of the above methods. Failure to occupy the room or to cancel a guaranteed reservation in the appropriate time frame will result in a charge of one night’s room and tax applied to the method of guarantee.
The room block outlined on the contract will be reserved until Jan. 19, 2014. Reservations received after the Cut-Off Date will be subject to availability of guestrooms and rates.
Shifting the focus of agriculture from maximum yields to maximum soil health quality is critical to the sustainability of agriculture in Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, the United States and globally. SFA is committed to continued soil health programming, including programs addressing the integration of cover crops, row crops and livestock grazing. We will continue the pursuit of funding and programs that foster the development of soil health building practices for the long term.