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From the Soil Up: Exploring strategies for modern Eco-Agriculture

Learn more about each conference activity:
  • Eco-Ag University
  • Trade Show
  • Film Screenings

  • Here's a quick look at all the different activities and when they will happen:

    Conference Session Agenda:

    Wednesday, Dec 6 | Thursday, Dec 7 | Friday, Dec 8


    Wednesday, December 6, 2017

    2 p.m.- 3:30 p.m.

    Composting Made Simple
    Edwin Blosser

    Longtime Midwest composting consultant, Edwin Blosser, will explain the reasons for using compost and then walk attendees through steps to simplify the process of making compost on a farm-scale. He will also share six critical starting principles with the goal of delivering to the soil most of the energy that originally went into growing the organic matter. Gain a deeper understanding of the role of humus in farming and the unique ability of compost to deliver on its promise.

    Bonus Session: Edwin Blosser will share new strategies that he’s using to balance minerals in the soil using composting for mineral activation and pre-digestion.

    2 p.m.- 4 p.m.

    Introduction to Principles of Biodynamics in the Field
    Patricia Frazier

    Biodynamics is the oldest form of organic agriculture. Established in 1924 in Eastern Europe during eight lectures over a 10-day period given by Rudolf Steiner, the methods of biodynamic agriculture were imparted to farmers of their time experiencing declining nutritional quality, crop yields, and seed vitality. Today, biodynamic food has entered the marketplace of established retailers such as Whole Foods, Amy’s Kitchen, and Lundberg Rice who are finding that customers are looking for higher nutritional quality and integrity of farming practices in the foods they choose. In this workshop, we will introduce participants to the three main principles of biodynamic farming and gardening, the farm as an organism, the influence of planetary and seasonal rhythms upon crop yields and keeping qualities and maintaining fertility and soil health utilizing the biodynamic preparations. This introduction will include practical application of all three of these principles on farms of multiple scales and crops, including diversified vegetables, pastured animals, medicinal herbs and flowers, and commodity crops such as grains.

    3 p.m.-4 p.m.

    Soil and Hair Mineral Analysis
    Dr. Richard Olree

    To grow the best crops in an organic manner is critical to crop and human substantiation. In this introductory session, Dr. Richard Olree walks attendees through the foundations of soil and hair analysis. The audience will learn what a soil mineral test is and its significance to growing better crops. Dr. Olree will also describe what a human minerals test is and its importance to understanding which minerals can be detected from a body biopsy such as hair. Ultimately, attendees will gain a grasp of which minerals the system needs to obtain or which minerals to eliminate for optimal human health, or crop production.

    7:30 p.m. - Evening Keynote

    The Liquid Carbon Pathway and Common Mycorrhizal Networks
    Dr. Christine Jones

    A global soil health revolution is taking place, one based on plant diversity. In parallel with research into the human gut microbiome, understanding and supporting the functioning of the soil microbiome is being increasingly recognized as the future for agriculture. In this keynote address, Dr. Christine Jones will explain that due to the soil priming effects of multispecies crops and pastures, farmers in many parts of the world are finding they are able to significantly reduce or even eliminate the need for inorganic fertilizer. Plant roots exude hundreds of different biological compounds, many of which act as signals to soil microbes. Root exudates vary continuously over time, depending on the plant’s immediate requirements. The greater the diversity of plants, the greater the diversity of microbes and the more robust the soil ecosystem. Plants in diverse communities assist each other by linking together via vast underground superhighways termed ‘Common Mycorrhizal Networks’ through which they can exchange carbon, water and nutrients. Common mycorrhizal networks increase plant resistance to pests and diseases as well as enhancing plant vigor and improving soil health. Sure to be an amazing presentation from one of Acres U.S.A.’s most popular interviews ever.


    Thursday, December 7, 2017

    8 a.m. -9 a.m.

    Recycling NPK and Trace Minerals - Nature tells the Truth
    Paul Deckard

    Everything on the Earth experiences cycles: nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, oxygen, sulfur, carbon, water, just to name a few. Additionally, typical laboratory soil analyses actually miss a large portion of all the plant nutrients that are in soils. By using a different method of soil analysis, Paul will demonstrate how the use of natural and synthetic fertilizers over the years has contributed to enormous soil reserves of plant nutrients that are complexed, or tied up, within the soil matrix and don’t show up on standard analyses. By honoring nature’s laws and understanding natural cycles, farmers can tap into these soil reserves without increasing fertilizer inputs.

    Health on the Farm
    Dr. Arden Andersen

    Infertility from the soil to the crop to the family parallels each other — what you see in the soil and the crop you will see at the dinner table and in the family. Cultural tradition does not mean it’s healthful; heart disease, diabetes and cancer are common cultural traditions; Brix readings in the field reflect Brix readings at the grocery and at the dinner table; even the best diets need supplementation in today’s toxic/stressful world; why does one person see great results from a supplement and the next person not? Genetics is not an excuse to get sick nor continue a bad diet. Know your history before you open your mouth to spout philosophy. Everyone can be healthy; it’s simply a choice.

    Steps to Growing High-Quality Produce While Increasing Organic Matter
    Mike and Will Brownback

    This workshop will focus on a systems approach to running an intensive vegetable farm with an emphasis on soil improvement, covering topics such as using the Albrecht method for balancing nutrients; selecting appropriate cover crops combined with a realistic approach to on-farm composting for the vegetable farmer and the intensive use of cover crops, foliar feeding and proactive pest control. The Brownbacks farm 100 acres of certified organic produce in central Pennsylvania and market their production through a CSA, farmers’ markets and direct marketing to a retailer.

    8 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

    Uncovering the Truth About GMOs
    Prof. Don Huber

    Dr. Don Huber returns to the podium to update conference-goers on the new science further condemning this dangerous, but ubiquitous, herbicide and the genetically modified crops that have quintupled its use. Don Huber is professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University. His agricultural research the past 50 years has focused on the epidemiology and control of soilborne plant pathogens with emphasis on microbial ecology, cultural and biological controls and the physiology of host-parasite relationships. He is internationally recognized for his expertise in the development of nitrification inhibitors to improve the efficiency of N fertilizers; interactions of the form of nitrogen, manganese and other nutrients in disease; herbicide-nutrient-disease interactions; techniques for rapid microbial identification and cultural control of plant diseases.

    9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.

    Balanced Plant Nutrition for Limiting and Remediating Crop Stress
    Noel Garcia

    Some plant stress is normal, but if it happens too often or lasts too long, it can seriously impact crop performance. Stress can be caused by bad overall nutrition, adverse weather — especially drought or poor irrigation water quality. Aside from impacting yields and quality, stress very often promotes insect and disease infestations by weakening the plant’s natural immune system. The good news is that you can control and limit stress by:

  • Finding out what is causing the stress in your crops.
  • Learning ways to relieve stress and reduce its harmful effects that reduce crop performance.
  • Discovering the tools available to measure and control stress with: soil analysis, irrigation water analysis, plant sap analysis — including proline analysis (an amino acid used in the biosynthesis of proteins and a key plant stress indicator).

  • Fungal Consciousness
    Michael Phillips

    This lively exploration of soil biology and healthy plant metabolism will rouse every grower to think deeper. How mycorrhizal fungi enhance plant health is absolutely stunning. Nutrients are delivered by means of “fungus-root” synergy. A boost to green immune function helps keep disease at bay. Expansive fungal networks bring resiliency to ecosystems. Soil aggregate formation addresses carbon flow. Yet for the longest time, we have ignored basic soil biology and instead disturbed ecosystems at our own peril. Time to change all that, and fast! This longtime organic farmer and author will share his lifetime of study with participants.

    Ecological Aquaculture
    Wayne Dorband

    Did you know that an acre of water can produce 100x the nutrition than an acre of land?

    It's true -- practicing ecological aquaculture can turn an underutilized water body into a food-producing machine. There are over a million ponds from ¼-acre to 3 acres in size in the United States that are either almost completely ignored or greatly under managed. If we practiced ecological aquaculture in just 10% of these ponds we could provide enough protein and calories to feed all the hungry people in the country from local sources. Wayne Dorband will describe what ecological aquaculture is, and how you can possibly implement it as a profit center on your land. The speaker has been doing it on his land and for clients for over 40 years. When properly managed it can also enhance what you are doing to holistically manage your land-based ecological agriculture production practices. This presentation will present out-of-the-box thinking that could be a true game-changer for attendees.

    11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

    Food Freedom: Opportunities & Challenges for Producers
    Judith McGeary

    In the face of increasingly burdensome regulations, small-scale producers have been fighting for provisions that promote rather than hinder the local food movement. This session will provide an overview of cottage food and food freedom laws around the country and discuss the outlook for the future — and how producers can get involved. Judith is an attorney, farm activist and organic farmer in central Texas. She is very experienced in the law, government overreach, and what farmers can do to protect their rights.

    Increasing Profits With Regenerative Agriculture
    John Kempf

    This session will address how to produce more profitably through regenerative agriculture. John Kempf has become one of the most inspiring and promising crop consultants in agriculture today. Kempf’s consulting company, Advancing Eco Agriculture, has successfully implemented profitable organic programs for a large number of fruit and vegetable growers and crop producers across the country. In this discussion, Kempf will lay out the foundational principles he uses to succeed in bring operations to pesticide free production and how these principles enable growers to make more money with regenerative agriculture.

    Alternatives to Pesticides
    André Leu

    An emerging strategy for replacing pesticides, including natural ones, advocates using ecological management systems that can provide functional services. This is achieved by intensifying functional biodiversity to deliver the eco-system services such as pest, disease and weed control as well as delivering nutrients to the cash crop through making them biologically available. The key is to identify these eco-functions and then intensify them in the farming systems so that they replace the need for insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and the need for nutrients to be brought on to the farm. A good example of this is adding insectaries into the farming system. Insectaries are groups of plants that attract and host the beneficial arthropods (insects, bugs, spiders, etc.) and higher animal species. These are the natural enemies of the pests in farms, orchards and gardens.

    11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

    Hitting Your Target with Holistic Management
    Kirk Gadzia

    With all the ideas and innovations happening in agriculture today, how do you decide what to do on your farm or ranch? With an interactive, hands-on approach, Kirk will introduce you to the basic principles and practices of Holistic Management and then teach a powerful decision-making tool that will help you more quickly reach your goals and reduce on-farm stress. In this 1.5-hour workshop, Kirk will cover the following topics: How nature functions in wholes, and the importance of considering relationships within and between ‘wholes’ when making decisions. How to define and manage your whole — finances, people, and land. How to identify and change belief systems or paradigms that are blocking your progress. How different environments react differently to the same tools; how to choose the best tool. Working with nature’s principles to build healthy ecosystems on a foundation of healthy soil. How to identify root causes rather than just treating symptoms. Spending resources most effectively on the weak link. Getting the ‘biggest bang for your buck’ so you hit your target sooner staying on target by monitoring.

    2 p.m.-3 p.m.

    Your Hormones — the Truths and Myths
    Lisa Everett Andersen

    Holistic Clinical Pharmacist and Clinical Nutritionist Lisa Everett will discuss the relevance of hormones in the human bio-system, the problems associated with improperly administered bio-identical hormone replacement, and what dosage forms deliver the optimal levels with the most safety.

    How Consumer Education and Marketplace Pressure Can Help Drive the Transition to Regenerative Food, Farming, and Land Use
    Ronnie Cummins

    The major driving force of regenerative food, farming, and land use over the next decade will likely be consumer education and marketplace demand, with a special focus on how regenerative practices produce qualitatively safer and healthier food as well as create healthier and more productive soils, promote rural prosperity, and of course sequester excess atmospheric carbon and begin to reverse climate change. A critical mass of consumers are now willing to pay a premium price for 100% grass-fed meat and dairy products because they know that these products are healthy, climate-friendly or regenerative, and ethical. Currently the most fundamental obstacle to scaling up regenerative practices on a global scale is the fact that only a small percentage of concerned citizens, farmers, ranchers, land managers, consumers, and policy-makers have ever even heard the “good news” about regeneration, much less been educated so as to understand it thoroughly. Ronnie will explain how our initial task therefore as regenerators is basic public education, to spread the message of regeneration as widely as possible, and to organize and inspire core groups, coalitions, pilot projects, and policy reforms in every town, city, village, state, region, and nation in the world as quickly as possible.

    Poultry-Centered Regenerative Agriculture
    Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin

    Learn how the simple chicken — the world’s most universal unit of farm production — can yield truly global impact rooted in power of local, small-scale farming enterprise systems. Learn how strategically designed enterprises centered around poultry — which he calls “tree-range” — promote healthy local economies and meet food and nutritional needs, all while relying on naturally occurring biological-physical-chemical processes for energy (nutrient) transformation and perennial cropping systems as the basis for economic returns and wealth building. The speaker beautifully combines ingeniously engineered systems with technically advanced ecological principles to create nature-honoring farming enterprises. This will be an inspiring, breakthrough session.

    Three Keys to Easy-Keeping Cattle
    Steve Campbell

    Cattle industry veteran Steve Campbell understands the complexities of producing premium beef, but in this session he’ll describe the three keys to easy-keeping cows. He’ll explain how a cow’s shape affects her ability to digest what she eats, how the glandular function and butterfat levels of a cow affect how much she eats and how to visually identify those characteristics and how the length of time you leave a calf on her mother affects the development of the calf’s rumen. A more developed rumen can digest more out of every bite the animal eats for the rest of its life. Practical, hands-on advice from a seasoned producer.

    4 p.m.-5 p.m.

    What Organic Buyers Are Looking For
    Thea O’Carroll

    Along with its meteoric growth, the organic marketplace has become increasingly competitive and complex. Buyers often choose from multiple — but very different — sources of supply. In this practical session, third-generation farmer Thea O’Carroll will demystify the marketplace for growers. Learn simple things you can do to ensure product quality and to be more competitive in the organic marketplace.

    Adverse Weather and Crops — When Can Fertility Make a Difference?
    Neal Kinsey

    Neal Kinsey, a Missouri-based soil fertility consultant with clients worldwide, provides real, hands-on case reports illustrating how building up soil fertility and providing foliar plant nutrients at the right time helps create resilience for producing better crops when growing conditions become unstable. The presentation will focus on both persistent and shifting weather patterns and provide information regarding field proven immediate and long-range solutions. Learn how balancing soil elements creates a dynamic soil capable of literally “weathering the storm.”

    Modern, Family Farm-Scale Pastured Pork Production
    Ross Duffield

    The opportunity in local, humanely raised pastured pork production is skyrocketing, making it an ideal enterprise for consideration and a perfect complement to many forms of farming. Swine were considered the “mortgage maker” for diversified family farms for decades, until CAFOs took over the market. Shoppers and chefs have discovered that with factory farming came a fall in quality and they are now seeking the deep, rich flavor and healthier meat produced by heirloom breeds feeding on living forages outdoors. Rodale Institute is leading the way in designing and proving hybrid housing/production systems which makes pasture-based pork production something all farms should again consider.

    Your Microbiome: You Are What You Eat ... and What Your Food Eats
    Dr. Nasha Winters

    Knowledge is power in our plight to treat and prevent cancer and chronic illness. Despite the misguided belief that cancer is simply bad luck, reality is that up to 95% of all disease starts with what we eat or don’t eat. And it begins well before it lands at the end of your fork. Food quality is based on soil quality and agricultural practices, and a landmark study in 2004 found that everything from protein to minerals and vitamin C has dropped significantly from our most common garden crops since 1950. Thanks to monocropping that emerged in the 1940s and ’50s in effort to simplify our lives, it has come with a price on our environment and health. Soil degradation and loss of microbiome diversity are quickly becoming the primary drivers for chronic illness in our modern times. Add to the damaged soil, both internally and externally, genetic modification, billions of pounds of chemical agents and use of 80% of our precious water supply to grow such crops in the U.S. today, it is no wonder we are more overfed and undernourished than ever. Recent studies show that even our atmosphere is directly impacting nutrient density. More light and more carbon dioxide are leading to bigger, faster growing plants that are void of nutrition. Furthermore, the higher the CO2 levels, the higher carbohydrate content — think diabetic foods leading to diabetic people. Join Dr. Winters for a lively discussion on how to make your food your best defense against disease.

    7:30 p.m. - Evening Keynote

    Farming and Food: Two Futures
    Dr. Vandana Shiva


    Friday, December 8, 2017

    8 a.m. -9 a.m.

    Impact of Organic Inputs on Soil Health in Organic Production
    Dan Davidson

    Bruce Bacon was an organic producer from Ramsey, Minnesota. During over five decades of farming he created an organic production system that relied solely on rotted hay and cattle manure incorporated into production beds in the fall, mulched over with grass hay in the spring. His beds have shown continuous improvement in soil health compared to adjacent prairie and timber soils. Investigators evaluated soil health in beds ranging from just beginning to over 30 years into the system along with prairie and timber soils in the same ecosystem. Results show how the soil’s biological system changed with time and addition of inputs, evolution of the microbial population and enhancement of carbon and nutrient cycling creating a sustainable production systems.

    Minerals for Healthy Soil
    Gary Zimmer

    Soil health is the new flavor of the times. It’s talked about in all circles of agriculture, not just the biological/organic publications. They write about cover crops, plant diversity, no-till, minimum disturbance, crop rotations, but rarely about minerals. The assumptions are that the minerals are in the soil, and all you need is cheap NPK and lime to a certain pH with whatever is available in the area. What about sources of minerals, ratios, how to use soil test and what to test for? Yield and healthy quality crops are minerals, sunshine and water with a carbon biological link. Exchangeable calcium is king for high-yielding healthy soils as nitrogen is king for conventional farming. It’s not just adding these minerals and having them show up on a soil test, it’s season long availability, residue digestibility and feeding the soil life for the ones you want to do the work you want them to do. My session will focus on where are your minerals, what are the best sources, how much can a good healthy soil supply. Also what needs to be supplemented for obtaining high yielding high quality crops without chemical intervention? At the same time building soil carbon and obtaining resilience.

    Defining Tillage by Measures of Soil Health
    Jim Martindale

    Far too often farmers find themselves categorizing a tillage practice by the popular acronym associated with a particular type of engineering design. For example, since when did a disk blade become known as something other than a primary or secondary tillage tool? How is it that it can be characterized today as a vertical tillage tool? We need a standard by which all tillage technology can be measured based on its performance results. Soil Health measurements might just prove to be the plumb line we need to stop the trips around the same mountain forever. Tillage can enable farmers to embrace many different soil-building practices or forestall the same. We’ll look at many different ways to add living space to the “house” without having to destroy the main “structure.”

    Transitioning to Biodynamics on Conventional or Organic Farms
    Patricia Frazier

    In this interactive workshop, we will discuss practical application of biodynamics on farms of multiple scales, including management practices with the goal of transitioning toward biodynamic certification. Demeter USA is the certifying agency for biodynamic practices in the United States. The standards and requirements for certification will be reviewed with a practical approach toward transitioning to their application. The workshop is applicable for conventional farms seeking to transition to organic management and ultimately biodynamic as well as organic farms seeking to incorporate biodynamic principles into their management. The workshop is a continuation of an earlier workshop in the conference and is appropriate for participants with some familiarity of on-farm biodynamic management. Bring your questions and issues specific to your farms for a lively discussion.

    9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

    Featured Plenary Panel: Regenerative Organic Agriculture — Connecting the Dots
    Dr. Vandana Shiva, Ronnie Cummins and André Leu Moderated by Fred Walters

    This world-class panel of regenerative farming authorities will connect the dots to show how to move from an agriculture that is degenerating our soils, health, communities, environment and farm viability to an agriculture that will regenerate our soils, health, climate and environment, nourish the world and very importantly will increase the profitability of farms and regenerate our communities. This powerful session will almost certainly present thoughts you’ll remember for years.

    11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

    Minerals & the Human Brain
    Dr. Richard Olree

    In the latest book, Minerals and Cerebral Spinal Fluids, Dr. Richard Olree offers a new way to understand what the brain needs to function on a practical basis. Cerebral spinal fluid is the third most abundant fluid of the human body. It contains 452 different, distinct entities. This lecture will be based around the minerals, vitamins and amino acids found in the brain and spinal cord, which control the body’s immune system. With concerns about brain health widespread this presentation is timely and essential.

    Regenerative Organic Standard: A Framework for the Future
    Jeff Moyer

    This longtime organic farmer and executive director of Rodale Institute will discuss the current version of the Rodale Institute-hosted Regenerative Organic Standard, explain why Rodale Institute is working on this, what does it mean to our support of the USDA NOP organic standard, what is the timeline for rolling out the certification, and how farmers can get involved. This workshop will begin as a formal presentation, however, much of the time will be spent in interactive group discussion and conversation. For background information on this new standard please visit

    Validating Albrecht's Work in Modern Day: Improved Crop Nutrition & Soil Health
    Tim Reinbott, Ph.D.

    This speaker’s research team broke down Dr. Albrecht’s recommendations and tested each individually and together. The complete recommendation resulted in the highest yield of corn and soybean and forage. Corn grain quality was higher and forage nutritional quality was greater when the Albrecht system followed, the role of sulfur and other nutrients on quality. Why does yield increase? Better soil health: chemical, biological and physical attributes. The Albrecht method improves soil chemistry and results in an increase in soil biology which in turn increases soil physical properties such as aggregate stability. Does the percent base saturation of calcium and magnesium really make a difference? Yes. How? Tim will also present video demonstrations that show how the base saturation of calcium and magnesium can change soil properties.

    Wake Up Your Soil with Weeds
    Vail Dixon

    Use your weeds to radically improve your soil. Seriously. Get to the root of your weed problem and heal your soil — naturally! Did you know that you can prevent weed germination, instead of fighting them once they are dominating? In this session, Vail Dixon will explain how you can use wastes you already have to quickly change the soil in your weediest areas to diverse and healthy. Know how to feed the soil so that you can grow what you want. The secret is in the soil. She will review principles of why weeds grow and how to work with nature to accelerate the healing process, introduce cost-effective and timesaving tools, explain strategies for how to choose the right order and timing of the tools to keep your system going in the right direction, and will walk through case studies that demonstrate what has worked to heal land quickly in a wide variety of farming situations.

    2 p.m.-3 p.m.

    Balancing Your Soil to Maximize Nutrient Availability
    Leilani Zimmer-Durand

    This talk will focus on getting nutrients to plants: What are the best ways to get everything out of a fertilizer? What are the best ways to tap into the reserves of nutrients that are in the soil? Unlike the conventional wisdom on fertilizers, ensuring that plants get what they need isn’t just about crop removal. The application of the 200 units of N that is recommended for a projected 200 bushel corn crop, doesn’t mean all of that N gets into your crop and ignores the role soil plays in cycling nutrients. Many farmers overapply, or apply the wrong source for the soil type or crop, which can make nutrients hard for plants to access, or can lead to nutrient losses. Farmers need to choose not only the right amount of fertilizer but also the right source so that as much as possible of those nutrients bought get into plants. Plus, you want to tap into the reserves that are in the soil in order to cycle the nutrients that are already there. Leilani will talk about balancing your soils in order to maximize nutrient availability; using sources that fit your soil type and crop; tying minerals to carbon sources to maximize uptake efficiency; and using the natural interactions between roots, soils and soil microbes to tap into the soil’s natural nutrient cycling processes to get the most out of the nutrients already in your soil, while also paying attention to what your soils have to deliver so you don’t draw down nutrient levels and can keep your farm sustainable and your nutrients cycling for years to come.

    Navigating Organic Certification
    Andy Hupp

    Andy Hupp, program manager at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, will explain organic standards and guide attendees through the certification process, including transitioning to organic, pitfalls to avoid, the investment required to achieve certification, the benefits of certification, and other resources for growers. Farmers seeking to become certified, as well as those looking to better manage the process, will benefit from this session, gain new resources, and go home with practical advice from someone helping farmers every day with the often-confusing process.

    Achieving Tender & Flavorful Beef on the Hoof
    Steve Campbell

    Steve Campbell shares a unique strategy for identifying quality meat. There are whorls, swirls and curls in an animal’s hide that can tell you if he/she has tender beef, once you learn to see where they are and what they are telling you. Fine bones have fine textured beef attached to them — you can identify a fine bone with the eye and your fingertips. Once you master this art, there will be no need to use DNA or ultrasound to make sure your customers are happy.

    2 p.m.-4 p.m.

    Honey Bee Colonies as Livestock: Managing Beekeeping Expectations
    Dave Noble

    Pollinators are not simply a blip in the news; they are something all farmers need to actively consider. This discussion will detail how to develop a framework to integrate honey bees into a farming system. With a focus on the question “is keeping bees right for you and your farm?” the presenter will explore the costs (financial, learning, and labor) and potential benefits (pollination and production) associated with honey bees as well as discuss how to manage and balance the expectations of what honey bee colonies need as well as what they could bring to your farm.

    4 p.m.-5 p.m.

    Farm & Ranch Water Management: Keyline, Contours and Swales, Oh My!
    Mark Shepard

    Whether your land is flat or hilly, there are sophisticated, yet simple options for optimizing water distribution and management based on keyline design and other principles. This Wisconsin farmer will explain the various techniques as well as their strengths and weaknesses. Learn the benefits and shortfalls of traditional contour farming, grassy waterways, and USDA terraces as compared to Keyline Design and the presenter’s own Master Line System.
    Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture, will show how shaping land on his own farm has continually increased topsoil depth, increased soil organic matter, and improved drought resistance for two decades.

    Enhancing the Environment of Plant Roots: Managing Nutrient Uptake & Microbial Relationships
    Larry Zibilske, Ph.D.

    Plants are composed of a green part, growing above the ground that is readily recognized and differentiated. We know almost instinctively how to separate plant types based on their above-ground characteristics. But what is far less obvious is their root systems. Roots are the hidden half of plants that contribute more to plants than their functions of water and nutrient uptake. They are really very different creatures than the green part, starkly different in form and function. When they function well, plant health and nutrition follow. Many problems result from poor root conditions, but better understanding of these sometimes subtle problems can help ensure healthy roots and overall plant performance.

    Nature’s Balance — Recovering from Genetic Modification
    Wil Spencer

    Of increasing concern are genetically modified organisms found in nature and even in organic production systems and in the human body. Naturopath, researcher and farmer Wil Spencer will take attendees through the process of using new technology to scan for these organisms (as well as industrial waste, chemicals and pesticides) and discuss what can be done to offset these modern-day curses’ effects on the body. He will argue that nature can recover from genetic modification if provided the right tools to allow it to do so. Scanning technology and homeopathic remedies are among the solutions to be discussed.

    Big Questions about Microscopic Crop (and Grower?) Partners
    Matthew Kleinhenz

    Growers and others are working to learn how including specific microbes, in the form of crop inoculants known as biostimulants or biofertilizers, may enhance production. Everyone, it seems, has many questions about how to select, use, and evaluate the efficacy of microbial inoculants more effectively. This session will summarize grower, supplier, and researcher perspectives on microbial-based biostimulants. Content will focus on steps growers can take – beginning immediately – to employ these products more effectively. The value of existing and soon-to-be developed resources and collaborative product evaluations will be emphasized.

    7:30 p.m. - Evening Keynote

    Finding Hope in Regenerative Agriculture
    Courtney White

    This presentation covers Courtney White’s journey from city boy to environmental activist to dues-paying member of the New Mexico Cattle growers Association to his current role as advocate for regenerative agriculture. At each step along the way, he found a great deal of hope to a variety of global concerns — hope that he’ll share. Topics include: sustainable ranching, ecological restoration, grass-fed food, The Radical Center, carbon sequestration in soils, and other 2% Solutions. He will conclude by discussing the hopefulness of regenerative agriculture, which embraces values that are cooperative, local, democratic, principled, practical, experimental, entrepreneurial, thrifty and profitable. Above all, regenerative agriculture emphasizes renewal.


    *Preliminary agenda. Session titles subject to change and more sessions to be added in coming weeks.

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