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, 2019. The event is being held at the 4-H Building at the Gage County Fairgrounds, 1000 West Scott Street in Beatrice.
Registration, coffee and donuts and viewing of table displays will begin at 8:30 a.m. The educational program will begin at 9 a.m. with Nebraska Extension Engineer Paul Jasa kicking off the event talking about the systems approach for no-till farming and soil health. Gary Lesoing, UNL Extension Educator, will follow with cover crop and on-farm research data and is the Nebraska Extension Coordinator for the SARE program or Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.
UNL Extension Educator Randy Pryor, who is hosting the event, said farmers who attend these types of conferences often come away with new ideas and contacts that can have positive impacts on their farming operations or new on-farm research ideas. He also said implementing or trying cover crops does not ever mean pest free. He said Justin McMechan, UNL Crops Specialist, has followed issues that Nebraska farmers are facing and will be offering suggestions on how to manage insect pests in cover crops.
The keynote presentation leading into the sponsored lunch at noon is being presented by Keith Thompson, farmer and cattleman from Osage City, Kansas. Keith farms with his son, Ben and brother, Doug and their 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 it mimics Mother Nature. The Thompsons believe in no-till’s environmentally friendly practices and the practice has improved profitability on their farm in soils that have very low water holding capacity.
After lunch Mary Drewnoski, UNL Beef Systems Specialist, will share the latest UNL research on cover crops and cattle grazing opportunities with cover crops. The subject of soil health and how it is influencing soil testing will be presented by speaker Lance Gunderson, Ward Laboratories, who has an expertise in soil microbial ecology.
Pryor indicated all the speakers and two additional panelists, Jody Saathoff, a farmer and representative of CHS Agri Service Center, Minden, and Rod Christen, 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 Corn Growers Association will be active in seeking new members and are supporting the conference.