The Roundup -

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By Tie Shank 

Mark Henning – speaks on "Soil Health"


Mark Henning is the Area Agronomist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service Area (NRCS) office in Miles City, MT. He works with producers in eastern Montana to improve their soil health by using tools such as cover crop mixes, crop diversity, no-till and grazing.He views improving soil health as the foundation for helping farmers and ranchers improve their operations and overcome challenges, which means core problems have to be addressed versus only treating symptoms. Mark is currently an instructor for the national NRCS course "Soil Health and Sustainability for Field Staff," and serves on Montana's NRCS Soil Health Team.

Prior to joining NRCS he spent 5 years in northern Afghanistan with a small non-profit organization, where he worked to help farmers become more productive and profitable while improving the sustainability of their farms. Henninghas worked with the local agricultural university, which was severely affected by many years of war, to offer practical, hands-on educational opportunities to Afghan agricultural students and worked to improve the university's curriculum in partnership with a group of U.S. land grant universities. He has also worked in vegetable breeding at Cornell University, where he helped develop varieties of melons, cucumbers, squash and peppers with improved quality and disease resistance.In addition to this, Henning worked with organic vegetable farmers in on-farm breeding to develop varieties to fit their agriculture system.

Henning and his wife have five children (ages 8 – 15) and he enjoys hunting, running, coaching soccer, no-till (low labor) gardening and teaching children about soil health.

Henning is scheduled to speak on "Soil Health" at Ag Days on Thursday, January 9th from 3:30pm to 4:30pm. He will speak about how soil health can address the various challenges facing agriculture- pests, fluctuating input prices, poor yields in crops and pastures,weeds and erosion. Building healthy soil means working with and mimicking nature, or "farming in nature's image." He will also talk about tools to build soil health, such as crop diversity, no-till systems, cover crops and animals.


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