Southeast Nebraska Soil Health Conference Set for March 3 in Hickman

Southeast Nebraska Soil Health Conference Set for March 3 in Hickman

Soil health, cover crops, and grazing annual cover crops will be among the topics at the Southeast Nebraska Soil Health Conference Tuesday, March 3rd in Hickman, NE. The event will be at the new Community Center located 115 Locust Street. Registration, coffee, donuts, and viewing of table displays will begin at 8:00 a.m., followed by the program at 9 a.m. There are around 40 sponsors many of which will have displays at the conference.

The theme is “Feeding the Below Ground and Above Ground Livestock” and both crop producers and cattlemen are invited to attend. “It’s 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 event host Randy Pryor, extension educator. Sessions also may suggest ideas for on-farm research.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Dwayne Beck, manager of the SDSU Dakota Lakes research farm since 1990. His work on developing and promoting diverse no-till cropping systems has made a huge difference in South Dakota to dramatically improve farm profitability while also doing a better job of protecting soil and water resources, enhancing wildlife habitat, reducing net carbon dioxide emissions and other positive impacts. Beck will reflect on “Where We Are Heading” and “Not Forgetting the Basics.”

Dr. Ray Ward is president and co-owner of Ward Laboratories, Inc., in Kearney since 1983. Ward will explain the important role that organic matter plays for nutrient and water storage. Our native soils had organic matter levels about twice as high as most of our soils are today. Some producers have made great strides in improving the soil organic matter but the majority of the soils need much improvement. Ward will explain the importance of nutrient cycling to build soil organic matter.

Other speakers will include Nebraska Extension engineer Paul Jasa who will talk about the “Systems Approach to Soil Health”. Gary Lesoing, extension educator and state coordinator for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, will follow with an update on cover crops and soil health research.

“There are opportunities in Southeastern Nebraska to have more integration with livestock and more diverse cropping systems,” Pryor said. Along that theme, Mary Drewnoski, UNL Beef Systems Specialist will talk about cow-calf grazing of cover crops. Tyler Burkey (Milford), Blake Huls (Cortland), Rodney Wiese (Wilber) and Steve Mills (Greenwood) are participating in a farm panel discussion sharing tips they have learned including increasing soil health with tools such as no-till farming, cover crops and cattle.

Thirty agribusiness displays are expected to be on-site. The Nebraska Corn Board is a major sponsor of the program along with the Lancaster County Farm Bureau and SARE.

Please register for the conference before February 28th for meal count and handouts (or by phone 402-441-7180). All exhibitor inquiries should be directed to Randy Pryor at rpryor1@unl.edu. CEU’s for certified crop advisors credits are available.