Education Lineup

Dr. Jerry Hatfield
Retired USDA-ARS Laboratory Director and Plant Physiologist

Jerry L. Hatfield is the retired director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa. He worked in California at the University of California-Davis from 1975-1983, joined USDA-ARS in 1983 at the Plant Stress and Water Conservation Unit in Lubbock, Texas, until his transfer to Ames in 1989 to the National Soil Tilth Laboratory until his retirement in early 2020. His research focuses on the evaluation of farming systems and their response to water and nitrogen interactions across soils. His research utilizes the genetics x environment x management concept as a framework to demonstrate how they can increase their production efficiency, increase soil health, and develop resilience to weather and climate variation. He received his doctorate from Iowa State University in 1975 in agricultural climatology, master’s in agronomy from the University of Kentucky in 1972, and bachelor’s in agronomy from Kansas State University in 1971.

 

2023 Presentation: What is the real value of soil carbon: Path toward increasing productivity and profitability
Summary: Increasing soil carbon enables the ability of the soil to provide water and nutrients to plants. The value of soil carbon increases the ability of every soil to support greater production, utilization of the water and nutrient resources, and ultimately increases profitability. Understanding these principles allows every producer to determine their own path toward capturing carbon and using it to their advantage.

Jay Fuhrer
Conservationist – Menoken Farm – Burleigh County Soil Conservation District

Working at the Natural Resources Conservation Service/USDA from 1980 – 2020 out of Bismarck, North Dakota, Jay particularly enjoyed working from the pickup end gate on the field edge, with a spade and the client. Conservation planning one field at a time.

Currently, Jay spends his time supporting soil health efforts through the Menoken Farm. The Menoken Farm is a conservation demonstration farm and is Jay’s favorite place to work. Here, the 5 Soil Health Principles can be applied while monitoring plants, animals, and soils.

Jay continues to share the soil health principles and how healthy soil serves as a foundation for cropping systems, grazing systems, cover crops, wildlife, gardening, pollinators, insects, soil food web, and quality of life. His work in this field allows him – and others – to farm forever.

 

2023 Presentation: Rebuilding and Maintaining Life in the Soil
Summary: Rebuilding and maintaining life in the soil is directly linked to the longevity and reliability of future agriculture. Landscape simplification has been ongoing for generations fueled by loss of perennials and animal impact, combined with soil disturbance, residue removal, and monoculture crop production without cover crops. Symptoms of landscape simplification are evident and include reduced soil organic matter and infiltration, wind erosion, water erosion, salinity, water quality impacts, and high fossil fuel inputs.

Macauley Kincaid
Farmer

Macauley Kincaid started farming when he was 18 years old. At 20 years old, Kincaid inherited his first 59 acres that were farmed conventionally until 2015. Kincaid is now a 28-year-old regenerative farmer who operates an 880-acre farm. The farm features a very diverse cropping system that includes 13 different cash crops that are all in a zero-till system. Cover crops are always grown between all of the cash crops. Over two-thirds of Kincaid’s acres are fenced and host a South Poll herd as well as custom grazing for around 100-plus different animals on cover crops. Kincaid’s beliefs are that the key to no-till is cover crops and the key to cover crops is cattle.

 

2023 Presentation: Cover Crops, Cattle, and Cash Flow
Summary:
Join this session if you want to learn how to increase profitability on your farm. Discussions will include cash crop management with cover crops and how to integrate livestock successfully on your row crop land.

Roy Pfaltzgraff
Farmer, Pfaltzgraff Farms, LLC

Roy Pfaltzgraff with his wife Barb and his parents operate a 2,000-acre dryland family farm, Pfaltzgraff Farms, LLC, south of Haxtun, Colorado. Roy’s father has always had a pioneering vision and spirit, but he could never imagine the farm as it is now. The farm has evolved from raising two to three crops a year to fourteen crops in 2022. While continuing to use commercial chemicals and fertilizers, Roy has created a diverse cropping rotation that minimizes these inputs while maximizing the benefits from inter-cropping, increased soil health, and biodiversity. Roy has integrated new techniques from seeding through harvest that minimizes specialty equipment while doing everything possible to increase soil health while conserving residue and moisture. Roy has been able to see improvements in the soil, the most notable is raising organic matter from the area’s average of less than 1% to a farm average of 2.5%.

 

2023 Presentation: Don’t Tell Me How To Do Soil Health
Summary:
Farming in arid regions has its own challenges. The standard line on soil health requires cover crops and livestock to harvest it, but that is difficult to do on less than 15 inches of precipitation a year. There are ways to build soil health that goes against these common views built on diversity and continuous cropping.

Trisha Jackson, Ph.D.
Director of Regenerative Agriculture, Prairiefood

Trisha hails from central Kansas, where she learned to value prairies and rural communities. Her educational and personal adventures took her around the world, where she admired diverse cultures, foods, landscapes, and agriculture. Through her graduate studies in soil science, environmental studies, and climatology, she came to understand how regenerative agricultural practices build healthy soil to create truly resilient communities brimming with nutrient-dense food, clean water, and plentiful wildlife. With these values in mind, she was pleased to join the PrairieFood team to help ensure that rich, fertile soil is the number one crop.

 

2023 Presentation: PrairieFood™- Get the Dirt on your Soil
Summary:
Transforming the World’s Waste Biomass into Revolutionary Micro-Carbon Products, PrairieFood facilitates moving carbon from the atmosphere back into soil where it belongs. Growers finally have a solution to maximize economic returns for plant and carbon crops while benefiting the environment and the fair profit necessary for farming communities simultaneously.

Brian Alexander
Host of the Ranching Reboot Podcast

Brian Alexander is part owner of Alexander Ranch located in Barber County, Kansas, just south of Sun City near the old community of Deerhead. The ranch is primarily a custom-grazing operation with over 60 paddocks across 7,000 acres in the Red Hills. The ranch is all native range, the last 500 acres of farm ground were planted back to native grass and forbs in the mid-80s. Alexander has been developing smaller framed, forage efficient, low input cattle that can live on salt and scenery. His father, Ted, is also part-owner of the ranch and between the two of them they have five trips through the Ranching for Profit school, and both would say that the school is well worth the money to go to. Brian has also been through the entire Holistic Management training course.

Alexander Ranch received the 2019 Kansas Leopold Conservation Award for removing invasive eastern red cedar trees and improving water quality in the ranch’s creeks and liberating new springs. The ranch also won the 2021 Citizen’s Conservation Achievement Award from the central mountains and plains section of the Wildlife Society.

Brian hosts the Ranching Reboot Podcast and is active on social media under the name “Red Hills Rancher.”

 

2023 Presentation: Grazing All Year – What’s Your Plan?
Summary:
TBD

Cassidy Million, Ph.D.
Director of Ag Science, Heliae® Agriculture

Cassidy Million, PhD, serves as the director of ag science for Heliae Agriculture and is responsible for overseeing agronomy training and product performance trials. Before joining Heliae Agriculture, Million served as the senior agriculture research scientist at Monty’s Plant Food. Before this role she held a postdoctoral position with the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service crop production and pest control research division where she researched non-host resistance in wheat and barley. Prior, she performed research in the Integrated Plant Protection Unit of Swedish University of the Agricultural Sciences’ Plant Protection Biology department. She obtained her bachelor’s in biology from Indiana University Southeast and her master’s in plant pathology from Ohio State University.

 

2023 Presentation: Healthy Soil yield Healthy Crops for Healthy Profits
Summary:
At the root of every healthy crop, a thriving community of soil microbes exists creating an ideal environment in the soil and promoting plant vigor—but today 75% of these microbes, such as bacteria and fungi, are starving, thus dormant. Part of their survival strategy is to lie dormant until a proper food source is delivered to them to thrive again. Cassidy Million will share the power of feeding your soil microbiome a balanced, nutrient-rich meal, like PhycoTerra, to “wake up” dormant soil microbes to perform important functions like improving soil texture, soil quality, water holding capacity, and nutrient uptake—all to support improved crop performance and return on investment. Growers will glean valuable information on how to implement a holistic approach to improving soil health on their farm with regenerative agricultural practices that impact the chemical, physical and biological properties of their soil.

Jennifer Simmelink
Coordinator, Kansas Soil Health Alliance

Jennifer Simmelink serves as the coordinator of the Kansas Soil Health Alliance—a farmer and rancher led nonprofit organization with the mission of improving and protecting Kansas soil through farmer and rancher led education and resources. Along with her eight-member board and partnering organizations, she has led efforts to develop tools and host events that provide practical information that can be used on farms and ranches in all 105 Kansas counties. Jennifer and her husband, Chad, and their three children live in Jewell County, on a mixed crop and livestock operation. Their farm has been 100% no-till since 2003, began implementing cover crops in 2005, and maintains a commitment to conservation and improving soil health. Jennifer and the Kansas Soil Health Alliance see things from the grower’s perspective; the need to achieve profitability in an ecologically sound manner and to regenerate and restore soil productivity for future generations.

 

2023 Panel Moderator

Kari Bigham
Teaching Assistant Professor, Kansas State University

Kari Bigham is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Carl and Melinda Helwig Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering department at Kansas State University. Coming from a corn and soybean farm in northeast Kansas, Kari plans to spend her career focusing on ways to manage and restore degraded streams that drain agricultural landscapes. Working with a combination of Kansas state agencies, engineering consultants, and landowners, Kari has spent the last eight years monitoring streambank stabilization systems to improve design and inform adaptive management strategies. Additionally, Kari is a licensed engineer with experience designing streambank stabilization and stream restoration systems, as well as water quality and quantity BMPs in both agricultural and urban settings. Kari lives adjacent to the mighty Kaw River near the capitol of Kansas with her husband, Dan, and their two kids.

 

2023 Presentation: From Sky to Stream: A Systems Approach to Water Management
Summary:
Engineers and land managers have spent decades developing and implementing methods to “control” water for drainage, storage, and erosion reduction, rarely considering the cumulative impact these approaches may have on water quality and availability for downstream users. This session will cover the importance of understanding the water cycle and demonstrate both the economic and ecological benefits of working with natural surface water processes, rather than attempting to control them. Similar to the farm-to-fork concept, this session will track surface water as it falls from the sky to our fields and eventually in our streams. Following this holistic overview of the water cycle, ecologically-based, field- to stream-scale water management techniques for storage, erosion reduction, and water quality improvement will be discussed.