Southeast Nebraska Soil Health Conference March 6

Cattle grazing cover crops
The benefits of grazing cover crops will be one feature of the Southeast Nebraska Soil Health Conference March 6 in Beatrice.

Southeast Nebraska Soil Health Conference March 6

Soil health, cover crops, and grazing annual cover crops will be among the topics at the Southeast Nebraska Soil Health Conference on Wednesday, March 6. The event will be at the 4-H Building at the Gage County Fairgrounds, 1000 West Scott St. in Beatrice.

Registration, coffee, donuts, and viewing of table displays will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by the program at 9 a.m.

The conference is an opportunity for farmers to learn new ideas about cover crops and soil health and make contacts that can have positive impacts on their farming operation, said Randy Pryor, extension educator and event host. Sessions also may suggest ideas for on-farm research.

Keith Thompson, farmer and cattleman from Osage City, Kansas, will be the keynote speaker. Thompson farms with his son, Ben, and brother, Doug, whose farm has been in a continuous no-till system since 1991. The system has evolved to include growing more species of cash crops, plus adding cover crops and livestock to benefit the environment and society in the way that mimics Mother Nature. The Thompsons believe in the environmentally friendly benefits of no-till, a practice that has improved profitability on their farm in soils that have very low water-holding capacity.

Other speakers will include Nebraska Extension Engineer Paul Jasa talking about the systems approach for no-till farming and soil health. Gary Lesoing, extension educator and state coordinator for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, will follow with a cover crop/soil health on-farm research update.  

Using cover crops doesn’t mean a pest-free field, Pryor said. Extension Crops Specialist Justin McMechan has followed related pest management issues in Nebraska and will be offering suggestions on how to manage insect pests in cover crops. 

After lunch, UNL Beef Systems Specialist Mary Drewnoski will share the latest UNL research on cover crops and cattle grazing opportunities with cover crops. Lance Gunderson of Ward Laboratories, who has expertise in soil microbial ecology, will discuss soil health and how it is influencing soil testing.

Pryor said all the speakers and two additional panelists, Jody Saathoff, a farmer and representative of CHS Agri Service Center in Minden, and Rod Christen, a farmer near Tecumseh, will be giving their top soil health tips.

Seed company and agribusiness displays will be on-site. Pryor said the Nebraska Corn Board is a major sponsor of the program and the Southeast Nebraska Corn Growers Association is supporting the conference and actively seeking new members.

Preregistration by March 1 is requested to get a meal count. To register for the program, please go to: or contact Nebraska Extension in Saline County at 402-821-2151 or email  CCA credits have been applied for.  

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