What drives soil health? What are the costs and benefits of improving your soil? These questions and more will be explored Dec. 3 at the Project GROW Winter Workshop in York, Neb.
The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District's third annual Winter Workshop will feature Jill Clapperton, owner and principal scientist at Rhizoterra Inc. Other speakers will include Dan Leininger, Upper Big Blue NRD water conservationist, and Al Dutcher, associate state climatologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
All are invited to attend this free educational event, which will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Holthus Convention Center, 3130 Holen Ave. in York. Register for the Project GROW Winter Workshop online at upperbigblue.org/winterworkshop, or call 402-362-6601 by Nov. 25.
Attending the workshop will be of added benefit to producers in need of nitrogen management certification, as it fulfills the training requirement for recertification. In past years, this option was only open to those who had previously certified and needed to renew their certification.
This year, even those producers who are certifying for the first time will be able to receive the requisite training credits by attending this event, plus a short meeting after the event.
Clapperton is a well-known international speaker on topics relating to creating and managing healthy and productive soils, crop rotation, and cover crops. She is working to develop and adapt technologies for improved on-farm decision-making based on science.
Her work focuses on how improving soil health drives increases in productivity, as well as the nutrient density of the food produced. In short, healthier soils produce healthier foods.
Before founding Rhizoterra, Clapperton was the rhizosphere ecologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's Lethbridge Research Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta, for 16 years. In addition to her work with Rhizoterra, she ranches in the Bitterroot Valley of western Montana.
She often is seen during the growing season on the Rhizoterra Experimental Farm north of Reardan, Wash. She travels extensively as a speaker on soil health topics and as a consultant for agricultural systems.
Dan Leininger has been with the Upper Big Blue NRD since 2004, working to educate local producers on soil health and water conservation. At the Winter Workshop, he will present an update on the Project GROW demonstration fields in York, where many soil health practices have been implemented to restore soils on the city's wellhead area.
Al Dutcher returns to the Project GROW Winter Workshop speaker lineup again this year to provide insight on 2020 weather patterns and present a 2021 agricultural forecast.
An added bonus to this year's event will be a soil health activity for area high school students the day before the Winter Workshop, also at the Holthus Convention Center.
"We wanted to take full advantage of Clapperton's visit and offer something extra for students," said Leininger, who is one of the event's organizers. "The youth portion of the workshop will be hands-on with stations set up to keep students engaged and learning."
Directed health measures will be followed at this event, including temperature checks, mask wearing and social distancing. Check upperbigblue.org/winterworkshop in the days before the event to see if there are updates to these guidelines or the event format. Recordings of Clapperton's presentations will be available online in the weeks after the event.