Fifth Generation farmer in Warren County, Indiana
Recognized for outstanding conservation efforts on his farm and leadership in advancing sustainable agriculture, Rick was honored as Field to Market’s 2019 Farmer of the Year. Working to build soil health while improving his productivity, Rick has pioneered an inventive, system-level approach to soil health that he terms “Farming Green,” which has allowed him to increase his profitability while dramatically improving environmental outcomes like energy use and soil health.
Leading with Soil Health
SUMMARY: A few years ago, Rick describes, the farm went through a major rain event. “We had a one-inch rain event on the farm right after we had freshly tilled some soil,” recalls Rick. “I could not believe how far that soil had moved in the ditch and was ready to leave the farm. That was enough.” What started as a desire to solve for discrete challenges on the farm—increasing soil resiliency in response to an eroding rain event—has transformed into a systematic dedication to building soil health across the operation. Farming Green, as Rick calls it, now encompasses a suite of conservation practices including planting cash crops directly into cover crops, no-till practices, rotational grazing livestock, and reducing inputs and energy use on the operation. CEU Requested:
Soil Microbiologist – KRIS Systems Education & Consultation
Dr. Kris Nichols is a leader in the movement to regenerate soils for healthy crops, food, people, and the planet. She is the research director at MyLand Company LLC in Phoenix, Arizona. She is also the founder and principal scientist of Knowledge for Regeneration and Innovation in Soils Systems Education & Consultation; soil microbiology research advisor with the Food Water Wellness Foundation in Olds, Alberta; research director with Carbon Sync in Freemantle, Western Australia; and research advisor with Canadian Organic Growers. Kris received bachelor’s degrees in plant biology and in genetics and cell biology from the University of Minnesota in 1995, a master’s in environmental microbiology from West Virginia University in 1999, and a doctorate in soil science from the University of Maryland in 2003. In recognition of her work, Kris has received several awards including the 2012 Conservation Research Award from the International Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Regeneration Principles and Toolbox
SUMMARY: “The six integrated regeneration principles will be described with a focus on their integration to solve the lack of soil carbon problem. The six principles are 1. Green and growing; 2. Utilizing diversity; 3. Reducing synthetic inputs; 4. Managing livestock; 5. Maintaining soil armor; and 6. Decreasing soil disturbance. Although each principle will be outlined individually, their interrelationships will be of primary focus particularly as it relates to carbon flow.
A toolbox for producers to test and monitor soil health and carbon regeneration will be described including tools for measuring soil aggregate stability and mycorrhizal colonization. Information will be provided on building and using tools to assess and monitor both qualitatively and quantitatively.”
Regional Coordinator for the Southern Plains Region – FPAC (Oklahoma) – Third Generation Farmer/Rancher
Jimmy and his family own and manage 2,000 cropland acres and 5,000 rangeland acres in Dewey County, Oklahoma. The farm was converted to no-till in 1995, and Jimmy later went a few steps further and adopted crop rotations, cover crops, and planned grazing management to Jimmy uses specialized soil and plant tissue testing to monitor soil fertility. This helps him adjust fertilizer application rates by crediting the system for nutrients supplied by soil organic matter. In 2017, Jimmy’s farm received the inaugural Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award. The Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources. Jimmy serves as president of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and is on the board of the Dewey County Conservation District. As FPAC regional coordinator for the southern plains region, he serves Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas.
State of the State of Soil
SUMMARY: Jimmy will give us the “State of the State of Soil” from the eyes of an Oklahoma Soil Health Steward as well as his work with FPAC. CEU Requested:
Kevin operates Fulton Farms, a holistically managed organic farming operation near Litchfield, Nebraska. This diversified farm includes a pasture-based, multi-species livestock operation along with hay, grains, cover crops, and custom grazing enterprises. Fulton Farms has drawn visitors from around the world and has been featured in numerous publications, books, and documentaries. Kevin has presented at events from New York City to Los Angeles, educating consumers, farmers, advocacy groups, university students and faculty.
Regenerative agriculture: Making dollars and sense
SUMMARY: Regenerative agriculture encompasses so much more than just soil health. It is about regenerating rural communities and our next generation of family farmers. The key to survival for traditional family farms is focusing on profitability first and foremost. Are your regenerative farming practices generating substantial profits? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate your goals. We’ll examine different strategies on how you can add value to your efforts, reduce inputs, increase profitability while still improving soil health. This can ultimately lead to a better quality of life and more importantly, survival in this business during very challenging times.CEU Requested:
JRH Grain Farms LLC
Russell Hedrick is a first-generation farmer that has a dedication to growing some of the finest grain and livestock in his region of the southeast. After forming JRH Grain Farms, his exceptional use of new technologies and cover crops led him to be awarded the North Carolina Innovative Young Farmer of the Year by North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in 2014. Russell has been a featured producer in the Farm Press magazine for maximizing his cover crop benefits and National No-till Farmer for the integration of cattle onto covers and using the Haney test for reducing fertilizer inputs on cash crops. His operation has grown through hard work to almost 1,000 acres. Russell’s operation focuses on maximizing profits and direct consumer marketing for all their products including corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, pastured beef and pork. JRH has also partnered with Foothills Distillery producing the first bourbon in North Carolina since prohibition. Russell enjoys time on the farm with his daughter Emmalynn Hedrick, teaching the next generation about regenerative agriculture and the value of hard work.
Systems approach to soil health
SUMMARY: This session will cover the multiple benefits of adopting soil health practices, how to maximize their benefits, and reduce the inputs needed to increase your farm’s profitability. This presentation looks at soil health from a practical farmers’ view through setting baselines of various soil and biological samples, building cover crop blends, inter-seeding and companion cropping, reducing chemical and fertilizer inputs the right way, how to measure on-farm results and setting up and modifying equipment. CEU Requested:
Meg Greski is a speaker, writer, consultant, and ranch hand. She has forged her own path into ranching and has been on a mission to extend the reach of regenerative ranching since high school. A graduate of West Virginia University, Meg earned her bachelor’s in animal science and ag business. She was also once an intern for grazing expert Greg Judy. Meg has worked on farms and ranches in seven states and ran her own 100% grass breeding stock operation for six years. She now manages strip grazing herds on Alexander Ranch, and teaches regenerative livestock management through writing, speaking, and consulting with Understanding Ag.
Have cattle, need rain!
SUMMARY: Some may believe that high-density grazing cannot be done in dry environments. It is actually much more important in low-rainfall areas. Learn how adopting regenerative grazing management can make every raindrop you get, and every blade of grass you grow, go farther. See proof of what is possible in the driest climates in North America. Find out how you can increase your stocking rate on the very first day you change your grazing management. If an electric fence isn’t an option, learn how you can still utilize high-density grazing in big, rough country, and on horseback. CEU Requested:
Alexis Hobbs, MS
Soil Health Coordinator, Ward Laboratories, Inc.
Alexis Hobbs received her bachelor’s in molecular biology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She then moved on to pursue her master’s in biology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney with an emphasis in microbiology. She has been the Soil Health Coordinator for Ward Laboratories, Inc. for the past year.
The ins and outs of building soil
SUMMARY: Everyone knows about the Haney test, however, not many producers are running a Phospholipid Fatty Acid analysis. Understanding the microbes present in your soil can help to better understand how your management practices are affecting your biological community. This session will go over a typical PLFA report and introduce producers to ways of effectively feeding their soil microbes. CEU Requested: