Learn in the Field
Morning coffee, lunch will be served on-site both days and dinner will also be served on the first day. Parking will be available. Water and restrooms will be available, but we encourage you to bring extra water and snacks. Please dress appropriately for the weather, wear closed-toed shoes, and bring a hat and sun block.
The 2023 agenda is in the process of being finalized. Until then – take a look at a part of the 2022 agenda to get a feel for what the On-Farm Intensive is like
Presentation: Introduction to Biological Farming
Speaker: Gary Zimmer
This session will cover all there is to know about what is biological farming. Attendees will learn the six principles of biological farming practices that will help you on a path toward rebuilding your soils, including:
- building soil biology
- managing carbon in your soils
- balancing soil minerals
- the role of key minerals in building soil health
- finding the best tillage practices to build loose, crumbly soils
- the role of plant diversity for soil health, and
- how to add diversity to your farm.
10:00 – 10:15 A.M.
Field Learning: Integrating the Right Cover Crops
Speaker: Gary Zimmer and Karl Dallefeld
In the first field learning session attendees will take a field walk and look at some of the cover crops growing on the farm this year. Attendees will learn:
- the role of different types of cover crops
- the practical aspects of managing cover crops in your crop rotation, and dig in the soil to look at some of the improvements on this farm’s soils from adding a diversity of cover crops
12:00 P.M. – 1:00 P.M.
Field Learning: Carbon-Smart Farming
Speaker: Leilani Zimmer-Durand
This session will address soil carbon and the role it plays on the farm. Attendees will learn:
- the different types of carbon on a farm and their different roles in soil health, nutrient cycling and organic matter production
- an overview of the carbon-trading marketplace
- what’s coming with the Climate-Smart Commodities grant and how that will impact farmers’ abilities to make some of the sustainable practices they’ve already been following more profitable
- how the current crop rotation system at Otter Creek builds more soil carbon than a traditional organic farming rotation, and why that makes a difference for yields and quality
Presentation: Economics of Running Their Farming System
Speaker: Gary Zimmer & Leilani Zimmer-Durand
For this learning session Gary and Leilani will look at the economics of how to make these systems run productivity and profitability while maximizing land use, building healthy soil, and creating resilient operations.
2:45 – 3:00 P.M.
Field Learning: Perennial Crops – Getting the Most Out of Your Land
Speaker: Gary Zimmer & Keefe Keeley
For this field learning session, attendees will take a walk out to the fields to look at some of the perennial crops Gary has added to his farm over the last couple of years, and learn more about when, where and why he planted them, and how they fit into his overall farm management and soil health plan. The Savannah Institute will also lead this session to share about the perennial cropping movement and teach attendees why more farmers are adding perennial crops to their farms and what benefits they bring.
Presentation: Soil Biology & Fertility
Speaker: Leilani Zimmer-Durand & Gary Zimmer
Soil biology and fertility are foundational principles of biological farming, and this session dig a little deeper into what they mean. Leilani and Gary will address:
- What are the roles of key microbes on your farm, and what can you do to promote beneficial soil life?
- Why is soil fertility using balanced minerals so important?
- What management practices Gary follows each year to keep his soils healthy and resilient
- What changes have occurred on Gary’s farming by building soil biology and fertility
Open Discussion Over Drinks or Field Learning: Silverpasture (Your Choice)
While dinner is being prepared, enjoy open conversation with fellow attendees over drinks or take a short walking trip across the road to experience a silvopasture operation.