A 2-day event providing high-quality instruction to teach High Plains farmers and ranchers how to sustainably maximize profit from every acre of land.
A 2-day event providing high-quality instruction to teach High Plains farmers and ranchers how to sustainably maximize profit from every acre of land.
Karen A. Woodrich began her professional career with the USDA NRCS as a Soil Conservationist in 1998 in Portage, Michigan. After working in Iowa, Illinois and Kentucky, Karen was selected as the State Conservationist in Kansas in 2018. Through collaborative partnerships and innovative solutions, Karen and her team of engineers, soil scientists, range and soil conservationists, technicians, and biologists are working with farmers, ranchers, and forest users to balance natural resource priorities with agriculture and forest production goals.
Karen is a native of central Wisconsin, with a dairy farm and Christmas tree business background. Karen holds a bachelor’s in soil science from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, and has completed the USDA Senior Executive Service Leadership Development Program. She now resides in Salina, Kansas with her husband.
Buz started his professional life as a chemical engineer and spent 12 years in the mining/mineral processing industry in Namibia, Africa. In 1999, he joined the University of South Carolina and has been involved in various projects related to living soils and regenerative agriculture. Buz is passionate about doing research on working farmland and collaborating directly with farmers on soil health research and projects. He works to show farmers how they can leverage cover crops to improve per acre income, mainly through savings in fertilizer and paying attention to biology.
Buz’s work has also moved him into the dual roles of research in and telling the story of regenerative farming. Buz’s guiding philosophy is that the farm is his target audience first and foremost.
Buz is a research associate professor in the Environmental Health Sciences Department at USC’s Arnold School of Public Health and holds degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and an master’s and doctoral from the University of South Carolina.
Lance Gunderson joined Ward Laboratories in the fall of 2002 and is currently leading the soil health testing division as the Director of Soil Health and New Test Development.
Lance started the soil health division at Ward Labs in the summer of 2011 with the implementation of phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) testing since that time has added the Haney and Soil Respiration methods. Very recently, Ward Labs has started offering soil enzyme tests as well. These current soil health methods are focused on using measurements that address soil biology along with aspects of soil fertility. Lance hopes, however, to increase Ward Laboratories’ testing abilities to include physical characteristics of soils in the near future,
while continuing to offer other new and innovative soil health testing methods. Altogether, Ward
Laboratories aims to guide producers’ management decisions with land stewardship, resource
preservation and rejuvenation, and sustainable food production at the highest priority.
Lance attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney earning his bachelor’s in biology/chemistry in 2005 and his master’s in biology in 2012. He is currently attending the University of Nebraska at Lincoln seeking a doctoral degree in agronomy with an interest in soil microbial ecology and soil health.
Dale grew up on a diversified farm near Hays, Kansas, and received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Fort Hays State University. He has worked for Kansas NRCS in western Kansas for the last 31 years has been in his current position as the Soil Health Specialist since 2014. His primary responsibility is to provide technical assistance on cropping systems that improve overall soil health to NRCS field staff and producers across western Kansas. Dale also owns and operates a farm in Ellis and Rush County, Kansas, where he uses a diverse and intensive no-till cropping system that includes several different cash crops along with cover crops. He and his two sons also operate a custom farming business in Ellis and surrounding counties.
The Seis family is one of the early pioneering families in the Gulgong district of New South Wales, Australia, and has been grazing merino sheep and growing cereal crops in the area since the 1860s.
Colin Seis and his son Nicholas own the 2,000-acre property “Winona,” which runs 4,000 merino sheep that are managed using holistic planned grazing. Cattle are traded when seasons allow.
The property is managed using methods that continually regenerate its grassland, soil and farm ecosystem. This dramatically reduces farm inputs, while producing up to 20,000 kilograms of wool and selling 1,500 sheep and cereal grain annually. Five hundred acres of oats, wheat or cereal rye are sown annually using the pasture cropping technique that Colin developed over 20 years ago. The adoption of industrial agriculture methods from the 1930s destroyed Winona’s soil and grassland and during the 1960s and 1970s. The farm became increasingly dependent on pesticides and chemical fertilizer for pasture growth and crop production. To solve these problems, in 1993 Colin adopted holistic planned grazing and developed a unique method of growing crops and restoring grassland and soil. The method, called Pasture Cropping, is a form of perennial cover cropping where annual crops are zero till sown directly into perennial grassland after the pasture has started its natural dormancy.
Pasture Cropping can produce high yielding crops and has been proven to restore landscape ecological health, restore native grasslands, improve grazing pasture quality, improve soil nutrient cycling and sequester large amounts of soil carbon.
Ph: 0263759256. Mob: 0428759256. email@example.com www.winona.net.au
Gabe is one of the pioneers of the current soil health movement which focuses on the regeneration of
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. They also
raise pastured laying hens, broilers, and swine. This diversity and integration have regenerated the
natural resources on the ranch without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides.
The Browns are part owners of a state inspected abattoir which allows them to direct market their
products. They believe that healthy soil leads to clean air, clean water, healthy plants, animals and
Over 2,000 people visit the Brown’s Ranch annually to see this unique operation. They have had visitors
from all 50 states and 21 foreign countries.
Gabe is a partner along with Ray Archuletta, David Brandt and Dr. Allen Williams in Soil Health
Consulting, LLC and Soil Health Academy.org
Del Ficke is the manager of Ficke Cattle Company – Graze Master Genetics®. He also connects family
farms and ranches with the resources they need to do proper legacy planning. With more than 35 years
of experience as both an agriculturist and cattleman, Del has developed a one-of-a-kind trademarked
breed of composite cattle, the Graze Master.
Del has spent the last several years transitioning his farming operation back to what he calls, “a more
holistic, sensible and profitable approach that is both modern and historically-based in both concept and
philosophy.” He is restoring the soils to their more natural state and has transformed commodity-driven
cropland back into native pastures as well as adopted a mob-grazing approach to cattle raising. Del has
sold cattle genetics as well as consulted throughout the nation and internationally.
In addition to his production agricultural pursuits, Del has experience managing a medical clinic in
Lincoln, Neb. and he has also held numerous leadership positions in agricultural associations and in
agricultural business. Del and his wife Brenda live on the fifth-generation farm near Pleasant Dale, Neb.
with their daughter Emily, son Austin and his wife Alyssa and their daughter Attley.
Reach Del at (402) 499-0329 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about Del’s pursuits
on Facebook at facebook.com/GrazeMaster and linkedin.com/in/GrazeMaster.
Anita Dille is a professor of Weed Ecology at Kansas State University. She conducts research to understand emergence, growth, competition and seedbank characteristics of important weed species in Kansas and uses that information to evaluate how cover crops, herbicide programs and tillage can be combined within integrated weed management programs for their control. Anita received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Crop Science (weed science) at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, and her Ph.D. in Agronomy (weed science) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has been teaching Weed Science courses and conducting research in the Agronomy Department at Kansas State University since 2000.
I grew up on a farm in Reno County, Kansas, running a 4010 John Deere tractor pulling a 4-bottom plow.
Since then I have come full circle in terms of my views towards soil health. I took my first Holistic
Resource management course in the early 1990s and I have been involved in everything in agriculture from owning a commercial spray business to running a stocker / feeder calf operation. I’m currently working for Kauffman Seeds with a focus on forages, cover crop blends and soil health. I also manage a pellet mill making range cubes for cows utilizing in part, the screenings from the cover crop seeds that Kauffman Seeds produces.
My brother Stacy and I have a farming partnership and manage approximately 770 acres. We have a cow/calf operation and are focused on flex grazing to improve our soils. We graze several different kinds of forages including; native range, improved cool season perennials and annual diverse cover crop blends with a focus on improving the biology of the soil. We also have some alfalfa ground that we use as a cash crop. I currently serve on the board of directors for
the Kansas Forage and Grasslands Council as well as the National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance. I live in Pretty Prairie, Kansas, with my wife Carmon and our two daughters Pepper and Gabi.
Why I believe soil health is important
The health and well-being of everything from our livestock to wildlife to our own human health all starts with the biological health of the soil.
Why we should make soil health a priority
To have a more healthy, profitable and enjoyable life.
What has been your toughest challenge in building soil health to date?
Learning to be patient. Nature works on her own time frame.
What is keeping soil health from being utilized on every acre of farmland in the U.S.?
A misperception and a misunderstanding of what a biological system means and what it can do for your own operation. Once you have an understanding of a biological system vs. a chemical system, it becomes a lot easier to make the transition.
Ray Ward is president and co-owner of Ward Laboratories, Inc. He is ARCPACS certified Professional Soil Scientist with a Ph.D. in Soil Fertility from South Dakota State University, 1972. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees from University of Nebraska 1959 and 1961. Before founding Ward Laboratories, Inc. in Kearney he served as lab division manager of Servi-Tech, Inc in Dodge City, Kansas; associate professor at Oklahoma State University; and assistant professor and instructor at South Dakota State University.
He holds numerous memberships in scientific and honorary academic societies and organizations. Ray has received many awards including the Soil Science Industry Award and Soil Science Professional Service Award from Soil Science Society of America in 2005 and 2007, respectively. He received the J. Benton Jones, Jr. Award, which was presented to him at the 12th International Symposium on Soil and Plant Analysis, Chania, Greece, June 9, 2011. He received the Henry Beachell Distinguished Alumni Award from the Nebraska Ag Alumni 2016.
His goals for agriculture and agronomy are to help production agriculture use its resources as efficiently as possible, to provide information and data for developing soil health for the best use of soil and water resources while maintaining environmental quality, to be involved in “value-added” agriculture and to provide accurate laboratory data for managing productions enterprises.
Paul Jasa, Extension Engineer with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, develops and conducts educational programs related to crop production that improve profitability, build soil health, and reduce risks to the environment. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Nebraska and has worked with planting equipment and tillage system evaluation at the University since 1978. He works with soil and water conservation, residue management, crop rotations, cover crops and soil health.
Paul is a go-to resource on no-till planting equipment and system management to protect and build soil. He admits if there is a mistake to be made with no-till, he has either made it himself or has seen it done. He has learned from those mistakes and shares that information in presentations that stress the systems approach and the long-term benefits of continuous no-till.
“Soil health is important for healthy crops and reducing risks to the environment,” he said. “Healthy soil has good, aggregated soil structure that allows water and root penetration and air exchange. The biological life in the soil processes previous roots and residues, making nutrients available for the next crop. It also makes nutrients more available from the soil and any applied fertilizers. Beneficial soil life usually outnumbers destructive soil life, reducing the potential for crop damage from insects and diseases because of the natural cycling of predators and prey. A biologically active soil with living roots feeding the soil system is the key for soil health. A well-structured healthy soil, protected with residue or growing vegetation, is more resilient and more productive.
“We must make soil health a priority to have a resilient soil system and produce better crops in the future.”
Shane New, producer and entrepreneur from Holton, Kansas, is a longtime no-tiller who integrates cover crops into his diverse cropping and livestock operation. A graduate of Kansas State University and an active member of the Holton community, Shane has hosted several field days and shares his knowledge of what works, plus what hasn’t worked on his farm.
Shane believes that through good soil health we will achieve good human and animal health. Believing that producers should gain the understanding of the natural system, one which didn’t require any synthetic inputs, producers should begin improving the overall health of the soil and practice biomimicry, thus allowing the system to return to its more natural state.
Shane says the level of sedimentation being deposited into our rivers, streams and lakes is unsustainable. “We cannot keep kicking the can down the road any longer,” he said. “Our actions now on fixing soil health is the most important thing for the future of generations to come.”
Brendon Rockey is a third-generation Colorado potato farmer showing producers across the globe how to improve farm health with biotic methods.
The focus of his approach is life. On Rockey Farms, biological inputs like companion crops, livestock, green manure and flower strips replace synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. His system sustains yields, has greater water efficiency and supports a flourishing ecosystem encouraging beneficial insects, soil microbes and carbon cycling. In addition to managing the farm’s annual potato crop, Rockey grows quinoa, flax and lentils, and welcomes local cows, sheep and bees to graze green manure and flowering fields.
Rockey Farms also produces year-round certified seed potatoes in its greenhouse. Three crops originating from potato plant tissue cultured in the farm’s lab are grown annually. Brendon uses biologically amended potting soil to promote crop health and uniformity, and flowering companion crops to create beneficial insect habitat, which serves as his main form of insect management.
Brendon is a National Association of Conservation District Soil Health Champion and Colorado Certified Potato Growers Association board member. He devotes his time to many local, national and international soil health focused organizations through speaking events and workshops. In 2014, Rockey Farms was awarded the National Potato Council Environmental Stewardship Award for its practices. In 2011, the farm was recognized with the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts Farming Division Conservationist of the Year Award.
Brendon believes soil health is the foundation of a healthy farm and food system. Soil health is the key to an efficient agroecosystem, one that reaps economic benefits while providing a nutritious, safe product for the consumer. For all these reasons, soil health is a priority. Healthy soils. Healthy farms. Healthy people.