Call us toll-free 1-800-355-5313

Search Site



2017 Eco-Ag University session descriptions 


Tuesday, Dec. 5, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Choose from the following workshops:

Restoration Agriculture

Presented by Mark Shepard

Restoration agriculture explains how you can have all of the benefits of natural, perennial ecosystems and create agricultural systems that imitate nature in form and function while still providing for our food, building, fuel and many other needs — in your own backyard, farm or ranch.


In this session, permaculture designer, agroforester and ecological farming consultant Mark Shepard introduces his unique combination of permaculture, silvopasture, agroforestry and eco-farming. Learn how to implement permaculture practices to diversify your family-scale farm with perennial crops; have all of the benefits of natural, perennial ecosystems and create agricultural systems that imitate nature in form and function while still providing for our food, building, fuel and many other needs.



Restoring Biodiversity to Agricultural Soils

Presented by Dr. Christine Jones

In this presentation renowned Australian soil microbiologist Christine Jones will explain how enhancing above- and belowground diversity to maximize the power of photosynthesis creates a robust soil microbiome, which in turn:


  • Reduces reliance on high-analysis fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides; 
  • rapidly builds stable soil carbon; 
  • improves soil structure, aeration and water-holding capacity; 
  • and optimizes soil, plant, animal and human health, water quality and farm profit. 


Building diverse soil life is one of the single most effective steps farmers and ranchers can take to boost resiliency against weather extremes and crop diseases and destroyers.


Dr. Christine Jones holds a Ph.D. in soil biochemistry and has gained international recognition as a speaker, presenting at workshops, field days, seminars and conferences throughout Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Western Europe, Central America, the United States and Canada.



Mineral Nutrition & Plant Disease

Presented by Dr. Don Huber

Nutrients are the components of plant tissues as well as the regulators of the physiological processes that plants are grown to perform in providing the renewable food, feed, fiber and energy that society runs on. Thus, nutrition influences all of the interacting components of plant, pathogen and environment that determine the productivity and health of crops. As part of the “environment,” nutrients influence plant, pathogen, and microbial growth to remain an important factor in disease control. The interaction of nutrition in these components is dynamic, and all essential nutrients are reported to influence the incidence or severity of some diseases. A particular element may decrease the severity of some diseases, but increase others, and some have an opposite effect in different environments. Some forms of biological disease control and ‘suppressive soils’ are manifestations of microbial activity that influence nutrient availability (Huber, 1989; Huber and Graham 1999). In general, the greatest benefit to the plant is provided when full nutrient sufficiency is provided; however, the response to a particular nutrient may be different when going from deficiency to sufficiency than from sufficiency to excess. Since each nutrient functions as part of a delicately balanced interdependent system with the plants genetics and the environment, it is important to establish a nutrient balance for optimum crop response. Plant diseases are a major limitation to improved production efficiency and crop quality as they reduce nutrient availability, uptake, distribution, or utilization by the plant. Disease symptoms frequently reflect the altered nutritional status of the plant and it is frequently difficult to clearly distinguish between the biotic and abiotic factors involved. Through an understanding of the disease interactions with specific nutrients, the effects on the plant, pathogen, and environment can be effectively modified to improve disease control, enhance production efficiency, and increase crop quality.


Take advantage of this rare opportunity to spend a day learning from this legendary researcher/professor. He will discuss six principles to controlling disease through crop nutrition, specifically nutrient/micronutrient interactions.


  • Plant efficiency 
  • Nutrient availability 
  • Plant sufficiency levels 
  • Application method & timing 
  • Nutrient sources & associated elements 
  • Integration with other management practices 


Dr. Huber is an internationally recognized authority on the role of mineral nutrition in crops and diseases. This all-day session will deliver a greater understanding of the roles of macro- and micronutrients and the biochemical pathways influenced.


Wednesday, Dec. 6, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Choose from the following workshops: 

On-Farm Water Management

Presented by Mark Shepard

Permaculture farmer Mark Shepard understands water handling on the farm – moving beyond traditional contour farming, grassy waterways and USDA terraces to Australian-borne Keyline design and his own modified Master Line system.


Crops survive in all climates, with all manner of weather extremes and soil deficiencies, but no plant can survive without water. In this session, learn how to manage your farm's water resources by using Mark's take on the Keyline design system. Keyline design uses simple, inexpensive earth-shaping and cultivation techniques to optimize water distribution on the farm. Keyline design spreads water from valleys to ridges, encourages water penetration into the soil, increases soil organic matter, and increases the depth of humic layers. In addition, Keyline design sequesters atmospheric carbon more rapidly than any other known technique. Based on more than 20 years of real-world experience, the presenter has modified the fundamental tenets of Yeoman's Keyline design to work on North American farms and take into account land ownership boundaries, crop water needs, and more.



When People Count and Money Matters: Managing Livestock to Heal the Planet

Presented by Kirk Gadzia

Learn the basics of holistic planned grazing from one of the world's foremost grazing consultants. Kirk Gadzia brings 25 years of experience consulting in environments around the world to help you learn how to use livestock as a tool to create a productive and profitable farm or ranch. Learn about the relationships of your animals to the land, and how you can manage the livestock above the ground to benefit the livestock in the soil to build a foundation of health and wealth on your land. Key takeaways from this workshop include:


  • Understanding the relationships between grazing animals, soil life, and forage growth. 
  • Understanding the difference between growing season and dormant season grazing planning. 
  • Learning benefits of diversity in forages for animal health and land resiliency. 
  • Exploring ways to estimate available forage and calculate ADAs. 
  • Monitoring growth rates of grazed plants and controlling recovery periods. 
  • Planning for maximum forage growth on available rainfall.
  • Coordinating grazing plans with wildlife, recreation, and other land uses. 
  • Planning for special grazing circumstances like poisonous plants, brush encroachment, livestock nutrition, etc. 
  • Learning how to create a grazing plan by following a step-by-step case study.  


Recapturing Your Health

Presented by Dr. Arden Andersen and Lisa Everett Andersen

In this day-long seminar with Dr. Arden Andersen you will gain both a broad-stroke understanding of the reasons behind poor health and disease and gain tips and advice to help you forge your own path toward personal wellness. Join this remarkable physician and agronomist to learn of the interconnected nature of soil and crops and our own personal health and the tools available to help you find health. A longtime agronomist who has consulted with some of the world's leading agricultural enterprises, Dr. Andersen is now primarily a healer who sees patients and experiences firsthand the health effects of a healthful diet.


The presenter has utilized modern medicine, traditional wisdom, and cutting-edge alternatives to help his patients reverse degenerative disease and find true health. Spend a remarkable day with this innovative, inspiring healer.


Successful Biological Orcharding

Presented by Michael Phillips

Fascinating biological connections make for a healthy orchard ecosystem. All insect pests and fruit tree disease – whether fungal or bacterial – have launching points and particular timing. Healthy trees address these challenges first and foremost from within. Growers utilizing an ongoing investment in soil nutrition and biodiversity set the stage for gentler organic sprays to grow a successful fruit crop. The challenges you face at your locale will become far more manageable as you build a holistic system that keeps trees and berry plantings healthy from the get-go. We’ll wrap up this day with important marketing perspective for selling the good fruit.

Phillips will touch on:


  • Healthy plant metabolism 
  • Fungal duff management 
  • Orchard soil health: food web interaction & fertility ratios 
  • Ecosystem connections 
  • Disease progression 
  • Integrating holistic tenets into orchard practice 
  • Holistic alternatives to fungicides 
  • Insect challenges 
  • Community marketplace 


Large-Scale, Integrated Pastured Poultry

Presented by Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin

The simple chicken ─ the world’s most universal unit of farm production ─ can yield a truly global impact rooted in the power of local small-scale farming enterprise systems. Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin is revolutionizing production systems with a model for regenerative agriculture that harnesses the power of poultry.


In this session, he shares how strategically designed, layered farming enterprises built upon pastured poultry promote healthy local economies and meet food and nutrition needs, all while relying on naturally occurring biological-physical-chemical processes for energy (nutrient) transformation as the basis for economic returns and wealth-building.


Far from mere concepts, this agronomist illustrates with engineer-like precision how various components of a diverse, interrelated farming system fuel each other and support the farm.



Managing a Modern Day, Large-Scale CSA

Presented by Spiral Path Farm -The Brownback Family: Mike & Terra- with next generation sons Will & Lucas, Loysville, PA

The modern CSA – community-supported agriculture model of production distribution/marketing – is light years beyond simplistic early efforts. From computerized management to digital communication with members, CSAs are a different breed now.


Spiral Path Farm has been home to Brownback Family since 1978, and is longtime, successful 255-acre diversified organic vegetable farm with four acres under high tunnel production. Certified Organic since 1993, they operate a 1500 -member CSA in its 24th year, large-scale wholesale produce and 2 weekend farm markets.


This practical session presents an opportunity to learn how a complicated operation is managed amidst the brutal realities facing present-day CSAs.


Topics to be addressed include:


    • Crop Planning / Crop Production 
    • Managing staff 
    • Marketing strategy 
    • Managing and communicating with membership 
    • Pricing 
    • Distribution 



Two-day Workshop on Tuesday, Dec. 5 and Wednesday, Dec. 6



Tuesday: Foundations for Biological Agriculture: A Systems Approach to Soil Management and Plant Nutrition *

Presented by John Kempf

This eco-consultant’s approach to farming is to believe in and trust the intelligence of nature. When operating as designed, nature's processes work cooperatively, in perfect harmony, to create nutrient-rich, productive soils to feed disease-resistant plants. When the soil is fully functioning, farmers can reduce or eliminate herbicides and pesticides which inhibit nature's processes from operating as designed.


In this practical overview session attendees will learn:

      • How to measure and build a soil fertility foundation based on the teachings of Prof. Albrecht and others. 
      • How and why to plant cover crops to build tilth, and how to utilize tillage to improve and manage tilth. 
      • How to select seedstock with the highest genetic potential and boost that potential through biological stimulants and focused nutrition. 
      • How to monitor crop performance throughout the growing season, fine-tuning crop nutrition as needed for optimum production as well as pest- and disease-resistance. 


Wednesday: Advancing the State of the Art of Biological Agriculture *

Presented by John Kempf

Eco-farmers who are already practicing the fundamentals of a solid biological farming program – soil fertility balancing, building soil biology, life-friendly farming practices – will benefit from this far-reaching exploration of the latest science and advances in ecological growing.


This Ohio farmer, scientist, consultant, product formulator and experimenter beyond compare will discuss several new approaches and new understandings behind non-toxic farming.


He will discuss:

      • Critical points of influence – the window in a plant’s growth cycle in which a great deal of its future yield potential or disease susceptibility is being determined, and how to capitalize on this through delivering the right amount of the right nutrition in the right form. 
      • Why the nutritional integrity of plants is the foundation for producing extraordinarily healthy crops; how specific diseases correlate with specific nutritional imbalances. 
      • Soil building through crop vitality – learn how crops can grow in such a healthy manner that they actually regenerate soil health and build organic matter. 
      • Timing is everything: for annual crops the most important stage is at planting and transplanting; for perennial crops, the most important stage is blossoming and pollination. Susceptibility for potential disease or insect pressure later on in the growing season is set up at this stage. Providing optimum nutrition at this stage can have more of an impact on yield and quality than almost anything. 
      • . . . and more! 

        This is a 2-day workshop - you must attend both days to participate.



Register here


Special thanks to our sponsors:


Midwest Bio Systems
Agri Energy
Great Western Sales
Midwest Laboratories
The Andersons
Everbest Organic



About  |  Agenda  |  Registration  |  Eco-Ag University  |  Speakers  |  Exhibitors  |  Lodging  |  FAQs  |  Sponsors  |  Sponsorship Opportunities  |  Volunteer