Reminder: Sustainable Ag Crops and Livestock Conference Dec. 3 at Ogallala - UNL CropWatch, Dec.3

Reminder: Sustainable Ag Crops and Livestock Conference Dec. 3 at Ogallala - UNL CropWatch, Dec.3

December 2, 2011

Nebraska ag producers can find out how to make their operations more sustainable and diversified at the Fifth Annual Western Sustainable Ag Crops and Livestock Conference Dec. 3 at Ogallala. Experts will share information about growing crops in high tunnels, mobile meat processing, and using the same field for both crops and grazing, and other topics.

“Integrating Crop and Livestock Enterprises – Strengthen Your Operation and Reduce Risks” is the theme of the conference.  Keynote speaker Don Tanaka, research soil scientist with USDA Agricultural Research Service, will share his experience integrating grazing into crop production, especially no-till crops. Tanaka has been conducting a long-term research project at the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory at Mandan, N.D., since 1999. Tanaka also will cover integrating crops and livestock in one of the six workshops scheduled throughout the day.

Conference registration begins at 8:45 a.m. with the keynote presentation at 9:30 a.m..  The conference, expected to conclude at 3:45 p.m., will be held at the Quality Inn, 201 Chuckwagon Road, Ogallala. To download a brochure, go to http://www.ckb.unl.edu. Conference sponsors include UNL Extension, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society (NSAS), and Organic Crop Improvement Association Nebraska Chapter 2.

Other workshop topics include:

  • Renewable Harvest - Mobile USDA Meat Processing Unit: Kelly Mashek will provide information on how to build a mobile processing unit and an expert team that offers free advice to individuals and groups. This mobile unit helps farmers to market USDA-certified red meats to schools, grocers, restaurants, consumers or other institutions.
  • High Tunnels for Western Nebraska: Laurie Hodges, professor in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, UNL School of Natural Resources, will include management, microclimate factors to consider, what types of crops do well, selected crops, crop and tunnel management and wind bracing.
  • Regulations and Licensure of Sustainable Ag Crops and Livestock in Nebraska: Kim McKenna, state health inspector with the Department of Agriculture, will cover regulations and licensure for poultry, livestock and locally grown foods in Nebraska. In addition, Liz Sarno, UNL extension educator—Nebraska Poultry Growers Non-stock Cooperative Inc., will explain how the on-farm federal exempt poultry processing plant was developed so farmers can process poultry for resale in grocery stores, institutions and farmer’s markets within the state.
  • Research Update on Cover Crops for Grazing Cattle: Karla H Jenkins, cow/calf and range management specialist at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension center, will present preliminary data on forage biomass and nutrient quality of cover crops for beef cattle in the semi-arid, high altitude region of the High Plains. Gary and Catherine Morris of Hidden Valley Ranches of Wood Lake will discuss their operation, where they produce cows and bulls that will thrive on low (7-9%) protein forage with little to no supplementation.
  • Beginning Farmers and SARE Farmer/Rancher Grants: Gary Lesoing, Nebraska State SARE Coordinator and Extension Educator, and William Powers, Executive Director of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society (NSAS), will explain the Beginning Famers Program, a series of workshops designed to help farmers learn skills to farm sustainably.