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Eco-Ag U Workshops

All-day advanced learning classes for the dedicated eco-farmer | Tuesday, Dec. 4 & Wednesday, Dec. 5, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m



These intensive all-day workshops allow you to dig deeper into the core technologies of eco-agriculture and to ask questions pertinent to your own operation. Both 2-day and 1-day Eco-Ag U. passes include access to the rest of the 2018 Acres U.S.A. Conference & Trade Show December 5-7. Be sure to register early.


Tuesday, Dec. 4 - choose from the following workshops:

Hi-Density Food Farming

Presented by Glen Rabenberg

Drawing on his years of experience in animal science and agronomy, Glen Rabenberg will discuss how balanced nutrition in the soil can be echoed in nutrient density of a crop and the balanced nutrition and health in animals and humans. The soil is a living organism, and its health can be tested in the same way we test human health. Glen will focus on the chemistry, biology, and physics and how they work together to produce nutrient-dense food.


Jump-Starting Your Farm’s Humus Engine

Presented by Edwin Blosser

This workshop will look at humus as the engine of growth on a profitable eco-farm. Topics addressed will include:

• The role of humus in your soil.
• Creating humus in your soil.
• Utilization of humus both in specialty crops, such as vegetables, and broad-acre crops, such as corn and soybeans.
• How humus can help reduce your water needs.
• How humus can help you dramatically cut your fertilizer costs and increase your income.

Edwin Blosser is a longtime instructor in the art of crafting and utilizing high-quality humus in production-scale agriculture. His goal is for farmers to consistently produce high-value, highly humified compost.


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. 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. 5 - choose from the following workshops:

Foundational Principles of Ecological Agriculture

Presented by Mark Shepard

Today’s misconceptions about sustainable farm practices are perpetuated by a lack of knowledge of the foundational principles of soil and ecological agriculture. In this workshop, permaculture and ecological farmer Mark Shepard will provide this essential knowledge base, addressing how soil is created and fertility maintained in nature and on the farm, natural succession, natural plant community types, environmental disturbance, population dynamics of pests and diseases, genetic selection and much more. Most significantly this will all be presented from the farmer’s perspective and focus on how to manage farms and ranches to more closely mimic stable and healthy natural ecosystems.


Large-Scale Farming For Soil Health: No-Till, Cover Cropping and the Soil Eco-System

Presented by Steve Tucker

Steve Tucker farms 4,000 acres in southwest Nebraska, applying regenerative agriculture principles for soil health, including no-till, cover crops and mob grazing. This workshop will walk farmers of all scales through the strategies that can improve soil health, demonstrate the steps to integrate these practices into an operation, and will include first-hand experience about the challenges and potential solutions one may face. Join Steve as he shows how changing current production paradigms can reduce tillage, promote soil heath, increase farm efficiency and so much more. Key points will include:

• The 5 principles of soil health
• Using cover cropping, particularly in a low water environment
• No- or low-till production strategies
• Capitalizing on multiple streams of farm income


Defending Against Disease: Healthy Soil, Microbiome Diversity and Your Food

Presented by Dr. Nasha Winters

Knowledge is power in our plight to treat and prevent cancer and chronic illness. 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. Soil degradation, loss of microbiome diversity, genetic modification, chemical use in crop production and changes in our atmosphere are all affecting the nutrient density of the food that we eat. Dr. Winters will lead a lively workshop on these relationships and guide attendees through the strategies that can make food the best defense against disease.


We also offer a two-day workshop on Tuesday, Dec. 4 and Wednesday, Dec. 5


The Principles and Science of Developing Regenerative Agriculture Ecosystems

Presented by John Kempf

Essentially all soil and plant ecosystems are substantially degraded, to a point where we don’t immediately recognize how severely they are malfunctioning. We don’t have a frame of reference to know what “normal” actually looks like.
It is common for most crops to produce only 15-25% of the yield they are genetically capable of. It is common for many plants to photosynthesize at only 15-25% of their capacity in a 24 hour photo-period.
In this workshop, John will describe the principles and the science of regenerative farming ecosystems that harness much more of the energy coming into the system, and produce olympic athlete level performance. We already have the knowledge and information needed to increase soil and crop performance by several levels of magnitude. We simply need to implement what is already known.
We can develop regenerative agriculture eco-systems in which soil health is quickly regenerated, crop yields and quality constantly improve, pest pressure becomes less of a challenge, and crops are much more resilient to climate extremes. When a truly regenerative eco-system is functioning well, the need for external inputs becomes less and less.
In this discussion attendees will learn:

• The science of soil-plant synergy.
• How to manage specific aspects of plant development and yield components. How to increase fruit or seed size, or how to increase the number of seed or fruit.
• How plants get energy from sources other than photosynthesis.
• How to prioritize cultural management practices and product applications to produce the greatest ecosystem response.
• How to develop disease suppressive soil by managing crop and cover crop rotations.
• How to monitor a crops nutritional integrity through the growing season.
• Why insects and diseases are attracted to crops with specific nutritional profiles, and how to prevent them.
This is not an entry-level workshop. We are assuming a foundational understanding of managing soil fertility and crop health. In this course, John will be describing how to achieve a much higher plateau of soil and plant performance. This workshop will provide an explanation of the science needed to grow 500-bushel corn, and 20-60% yield increases of many fruit and vegetable crops.



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