Midwest Soil Health Summit

Gabe chats with two farmers

SFA’s Midwest Soil Health Summit, featuring Gabe Brown, is Feb. 18-19, 2015

Mark your calendars for our second annual, newly expanded MSHS on Feb. 18-19, 2015, at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, Minn.

Registration is now open – click here! 

Last year’s MSHS was a sellout; we have added space for more attendees, but pre-registration now is the best way to guarantee your spot. Walk-up registration will be dependent on pre-registration numbers.

Sponsors and Exhibitors: Click here to download the 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit Sponsor/Exhibitor Form.

Also returning this year is our exclusive “Gab With Gabe” networking session from 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 18, 2015, with Gabe Brown. ONLY 10 TICKETS will be sold for this chance to network one-on-one with a soil health pioneer. You must register for the MSHS separately – this ticket will ONLY get you into “Gab With Gabe.” Click here to register for “Gab With Gabe.”

Speakers

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. At the 2015 MSHS, Gabe will discuss soil health programming for beginners as well as lead a separate program for advanced farmers.

Dr. Allen Williams

Dr. Allen Williams

We are also proud to welcome Dr. Allen Williams, a champion of the grass-fed beef industry as well as a leader in cutting edge grazing methodology. A co-project leader at the Pasture Project, Dr. Williams is also founding partner and president of Livestock Management Consultants, a founding partner of Grass Fed Beef and chairman of Association of Family Farms.

Also scheduled to appear:

  • Jerry Doan, farmer from Black Leg Ranch in Burleigh County, N.D., a multi-generational family farm that emphasizes soil health. Jerry, along with his wife and children, raise a cow-calf herd as well as a custom grazing operation, and his sustainable farming choices have been critical in keeping his children invested in the farm. To read a profile of the Doans, click here.
  • Dr. Michael Lehman, a research microbiologist whose studies include evaluating soil microbiological responses to agricultural management practices and determining if these effects are ecologically or economically significant
  • Dr. Wendy Taheri, a research microbiologist who specializes in the study of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). Her primary responsibilities are to advance the USDA’s ability to apply molecular tools to the study of AMF in agro-ecosystems.
  • Kent Solberg, SFA Livestock & Grazing Specialist, will discuss Designing Complex Cover Crop Blends
  • John Mesko, SFA Executive Director, will lead a program on Soil Science Basics
  • Ian Cunningham, a cow-calf producer and veteran cover cropper from Pipestone County, Minn.

Lodging

Need a room? Arrowwood Resort is a family friendly location with ice fishing, cross country ski trails, snowmobiling, ice skating, broomball, and more. For more information or to reserve a room at the special MSHS rate of $99, call the resort at 320.762.1124.


 Soil Health Informational Videos

Meanwhile, click here to watch a terrific short documentary featuring Gabe Brown and Dr. Allen Williams, done by Peter Byck and his team at Carbon Nation. Visit their website at www.carbonnation.tv.

From NRCS, this video, “The Science of Soil Health: Without Carrot or Stick” is a short interview with Penn State researcher Dr. Sjoerd Duiker that details how dairy farmers in his state are using cover crops to improve their business – without regulations or subsidies. Watch it here.


2014 MSHS

The following is a recap of the 2014 Summit, held Feb. 19-20, 2014, at Arrowwood. For a photo gallery, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Soil health is a red-hot topic for farmers, and SFA’s sold-out 2014 Midwest Soil Health Summit was brimming with excitement, knowledge, energy, and farmer networking.

Farmers came from Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Saskatchewan, and even Australia to hear soil health pioneers Gabe Brown and Richard Bieber as well as soil research expert Wendy Taheri, SFA’s own expert Kent Solberg, Burleigh County’s Jay Fuhrer, and Ryan Stockwell of the National Wildlife Federation, as well as local producers Carmen Fernholz, Larry Heitkamp and Dan Middendorf.

Midwest Soil Health Summit presenter and soil health pioneer Rick Bieber chats with attendees at the MSHS Discussion Tables.

Midwest Soil Health Summit presenter and soil health pioneer Rick Bieber chats with attendees at the MSHS Discussion Tables.

The Summit kicked off Feb. 19 with the sold-out “Gab with Gabe” reception, where ten ticket-holders were treated to an intimate audience with Gabe Brown as well as SFA’s John Mesko and some fine cheese from SFA member Deb Pikovsky’s Star Thrower Farm.

The general sessions of the Summit began that evening with dinner and a casual conversation with John and Gabe. Rick Bieber was there, too, joining the conversation, and already it was evident that unique perspectives and cutting-edge soil health techniques were in abundance.

On snowy, icy Feb. 20, the Summit’s full day, a capacity-busting crowd of 140 jammed Arrowwood Resort, and it was pretty cool the way Gabe, Richard, and the rest of the Summit slate were so willing to share their knowledge and experience – even offering their personal contact information to Summit-goers for future questions and advice.

Especially inspiring was the session Kent Solberg led on cover cropping. Gabe, Richard and Wendy were in the audience, as well as producer panel member Carmen Fernholz, and each jumped in to Kent’s presentation when relevant to offer advice and perspective. It was a session jam-packed with knowledge that no one in attendance will ever forget.

Keep watching this page and SFA Connect for more details about the 2015 Midwest Soil Health Summit, set for Feb. 18-19, 2015, at Arrowwood.

 

MSHS attendees crowd the Gabe Brown Discussion Table. Each presenter at the Summit held a successive gathering at the Discussion Tables, allowing for more intimate conversation as well as farmer networking.

MSHS attendees crowd the Gabe Brown Discussion Table. Each presenter at the Summit held a successive gathering at the Discussion Tables, allowing for more intimate conversation as well as farmer networking.

 

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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.

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