6th Annual Western Slope Soil Health Conference
The 2016 Soil Health Conference took place on February 11 and 12, 2016. Participants learned how to put practices to work on farms, orchards, and smaller homesteads/gardens. Featuring national and local experts, this conference presented ways to increase organic matter in and the health of our soils through cover crops, green manure, grazing, compost, entomology, and other sustainable practices. The conference boasted the largest attendance and with Gabe Brown and Jay Fuhrer as Keynote Speakers the conference was highly anticipated and delivered to expectation.
7:00 -8:00 Registration / Vendors / Breakfast / Networking
8:00 - 8:20 Welcome / Intro / Agenda Overview Brief
8:20 - 8:30 Community Welcome, Housekeeping
8:30 - 10:00 Gabe Brown: Holistic Regeneration of our Lands, a Producers Prospective
10:00 - 10:15 Break
10:15 - 11:00 Cover Crop Results
11:00 - 11:15 Break
11:15 - 12:00 Breakout Session A
1. Jay Fuhrer: Winter Grazing-Are Your Cows Herbivores?
2. Local Cover Crop
3. Small Acreage / Gardeners and Soil Health
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch
1:00 - 1:45 Breakout Session B
1. Gabe Brown : Designing a Cover Crop Mix to Address Resource Concerns
2. Soil : It's Alive, ST[EMpower] - Interactive
3. Irrigation and Soil Health
1:45 - 2:00 Break
2:00 - 3:00 Jay Fuhrer: Its Not Just Dirt Anymore!
3:00 - 3:15 Break
3:15 - 4:15 Producers Panel
4:15 -4:30 Close / Door Prizes
4:30 - 5:30 After Conference Networking Reception Hosted by Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
7:00 -8:00 Registration / Vendors / Breakfast / Networking
8:00 -8:15 Welcome / Intro / Agenda
8:15 - 9:00 Gabe Brown: Where Soil Health Has Taken Me Financially
9:00 - 9:15 Break
9:15 - 10:00 Breakout Sessions C
1. Jay: Carbon - Is Your Operation Business as Usual?
2. Local Cover Crops
3. Soil Health Amendments
10:00 - 10:15 Break
10:15 - 11:00 Breakout Sessions
1. Gabe Brown: Livestock Integration, Adding Value
2. Small Acreage / Gardeners and Soil Health (Jeff Pieper, Reed Irwin, Larry Wobeter, Frank Stonaker)
3. Economics of Soil Health (Jerry Allen)
11:00 - 11:15 Break
11:15 -12:15 Jay/Gabe: A Quarter Century of Soil Health
12:15 - 12:30 Closing / Door Prizes
1:00 - 3:00 Special Showing of Movie: Symphony of the Soil
2016 Soil Health Conference Presenters
Zack Ahlberg - Zack, along with his brother Seth and Dad Mike, farm a large farm on California Mesa. They operate Mountain Fresh Sweet Corn and grow sweet corn, onions, corn, wheat and beans. They also own several hundred cattle and do custom feeding. Ahlberg Farms has been raising different cover crops after their sweet corn for five years now and are improving both quality of their crops and a large cover of high quality winter feed for the cows.
Katie Alexander, Soil Conservationist, NRCS - Katie is a Soil Conservationist for the Natural Resource Conservation Service, USDA. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Soil and Crop Sciences from Colorado State University. She is a member of the Area One Soil Health Team for the NRCS. Katie has a passion for all things soil health related and in conserving our natural resources. She works in Montrose, Colorado and can be contacted at Kathryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerry Allen, Shavano Conservation District, Irrigation Water Management Specialist - Jerry is Irrigation Water Management Specialist for Shavano Conservation District and soil health team member. He is a retired agriculture education teacher and current recorder for the Uncompahgre Soil Health Team. Jerry is instrumental to the planning of both the Food and Farm Forum and the Western Slope Soil Health Conference.
Gabe Brown, Brown Ranch - Gabe is one of the pioneers of the current soil health movement which focuses on the regeneration of our resources. Gabe, along with his wife Shelly, and son Paul, own and operate a diversified 5,000 acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, ND. Their ranch focuses on farming and ranching in nature’s image. The Browns holistically integrate their grazing and no-till cropping systems, which include a wide variety of cash crops, multi-species cover crops along with all natural grass finished beef and lamb.
Greg Catlin - Greg and his father, Keith, farm a diversified farm west of Montrose. They raise corn, pinto beans, hay, sweet corn, onions and small grains. The Catlin’s have been very progressive in adopting new and better techniques of farming, most recently involving the inclusion of cover crops in their management.
Mike Collins, Area Conservationist, NRCS - Mike Collins is an Area Conservationist for the NRCS in Alamosa. Mike works in Area 4 which includes much of southwestern Colorado. Mike works with employees, partners and landowners to plan and implement a wide range of conservation practices on private lands throughout southwest Colorado. He will be acting the MC for the 2016 Western Slope Soil Health Conference.
Dave Dearstyne: Soil Scientist, Retired - Dave graduated with a B.S. in Wildlife Management and minor in Soils, University of Maine, Orono. SCS/NRCS Soil Scientist 29 years (Project Leader for 22 years). Dave has worked with and provided assistance to close to one hundred different offices, agencies, and organizations on soils, soil information, and interpretations. Dave has provided assistance to thousands of individuals involving soils, soil information, soil interpretations, and helping with the understanding of soil properties, characteristics, applications, and interpretations. email@example.com
Jay Fuhrer, District Conservationist, NRCS - Jay Fuhrer is a Conservationist employed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in Bismarck, North Dakota. Growing up on a small grain and livestock farm, Jay’s interests have always centered on agriculture. Jay emphasizes Soil Health as a foundation for cropping systems, grazing systems, cover crops, soil biology, pollinators, insects, wildlife, and quality of life. In addition, Jay uses cover crops and livestock integration to connect the cropping and grazing systems together, raising the Soil Health bar even higher.
Jack Graff - Jack is the owner and operator of Better Compost which sells agricultural compost and fertilizers: basic, better and finished compost.
Reed Irwin - Reed has been growing plants commercially and in his home garden for more than 50 years. His special interest is growing plants in different ways using unconventional methods. This includes applying soil health principles in the backyard vegetable garden. He uses 15 different cover crops and several techniques which are not usable by large-scale commercial producers.
Brandon Kail - Brandon and his family are the operators of Rocky Mountain Bio-Ag in Montrose. They specialize in natural products for every need, from farming to the back yard gardener.
Francine Lheritier, NRCS, Resource Soil Scientist - Francine is an Area Resource Soil Scientist for the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Grand Junction, Colorado. Francine has a MS in Soil and Biogeochemistry from University of California, Davis and has soils experience in Idaho, Montana, California, and Colorado.
Dave Lister - Dave has been with BioWest Ag Solutions based out of Idaho for over 20 years. He currently serves as the operations manager. He holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah. He is a National Certified Crop Advisor as well as and Idaho State Certified Crop Advisor.
John Miller, Delta Conservation District, Irrigation Water Management Specialist - John comes from a background of local agriculture and irrigation experience. As an Irrigation Water Management Specialist for the Delta Conservation District he acts as a liaison between the office environment and producers with on the ground practice. He is available to landowners to help them understand the operation and maintenance needs of their individual irrigation systems.
John Pavlich - John is a retired high school counselor. He and his wife, Linda, own 15 acres with several cows and horses. They irrigate with Sime Skipper guns and practice Holistic grazing practices. John and Linda are experimenting with 3 types of natural fertility regimes on their field this season.
Jeff Pieper - Jeff received his B.S in Horticulture at CSU as a student of Frank Stonaker's.
Before taking his current job as CSU Horticulture and Small Acreage Extension agent in eagle County, Jeff was completing his M.S. in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Rhode Island, which looked at growing vegetables in various low tillage and cover crop treatments.
Verlin Rockey: Potato Garden, Austin, CO - Potato Garden, has been growing and propagating potato seed and garlic for 54 years. Emphasizing the importance of soil health Verlin uses natural methods including biological insect control, cover crops, compost tea and inoculants to produce over 100 varieties of potato seed. He was instrumental in developing the Yukon Gold and bringing fingerling potatoes to the US market.
Jesse Russell – Agriculture Business and Management Economist for CSU Extension – Jesse received a Bachelors in Animal Science with a minor in Ag Business and a Master’s of science in Applied Economics. He has worked on multiple cow-calf operations through the western states. He has a strong interest in grazing economics as well as in the cattle industry.
Frank Stonaker - During the past 35 years, Frank has spent a little more than half his time farming, green housing and consulting, and the other half in academia. He received a B.S. in Agronomy, a Masters in Entomology specializing in biocontrol, and a Ph.D in Horticulture specializing in organic vegetable production. Before moving to Hotchkiss he was on the CSU faculty where he directed the Specialty Crops Program and taught in the Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture. Frank Stonaker and Beth Karberg now grow apples, peaches, sweet cherries and table grapes on their 30 acre organic orchard near Hotchkiss, CO.
Larry Wobeter - Larry was born and raised on a farm in Iowa and has been gardening since 1963. In 2000, he moved to Montrose, CO were he has experimented in his own large garden as well as plots in community gardens. Larry has been a Master Gardener for 14 years and has integrated gardening in traditional rows, raised beds, and container gardens and has been utilizing no-till, companion planting, and other intensive methods for a number of years.
Steven Woodis: NRCS Montrose, CO - Steve has worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) for 27 years. For a short period of time as a Soil Conservationist in eastern Colorado (Cheyenne Wells) and for the majority of his career in the Montrose Field Office as a Wildlife Biologist. Steve received his BS from CSU in Wildlife Biology and his MS degree in Range Science also from CSU. Steve and his wife own a small farm west of Montrose. Steven.Woodis@co.usda.gov