The Roundup -

Changing Dirt Into Soil – Soil Health Workshop, Dec. 18, Williston


December 11, 2019 | View PDF

Producers across northwestern North Dakota and northeastern Montana who are interested in soil health are invited to participate in a workshop on “Changing Dirt in Soil” on December 18, 2019 at the Williston Research Extension Center. The workshop, which will start at 8:30 a.m. Central time, is being sponsored by the Williams County Soil Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

One of the featured speakers for the workshop will be Jay Fuhrer, Soil Health Specialist with the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

On a Soil Health Tour this summer to Brown’s Ranch, Menoken Farm and Dakota Lakes Research Farm that was sponsored by several of the Soil Conservation Districts in northwestern North Dakota, one of the common messages was the importance of increasing the amount of carbon in the soil to improve soil health. Jay will talk about the carbon cycle and how to increase carbon in the soil.

Jay is widely recognized for his work on soil health principles and has been boots on the ground for many years working with cropping systems, grazing systems, cover crops and gardens. However, this may be one of the last opportunities to hear Jay speak as after 40 years of working for NRCS, he has announced his plans to retire in January of 2020.

Another featured speaker will be Derek Axten. Axten and his wife, Tannis operate a diversified farm near Minton in southern Saskatchewan. Located not far from the Montana and North Dakota borders with Canada, the Axtens face the same challenges with the shorter growing season and routine lack of moisture as producers in this area.

Since learning about soil biology and how soil functions, the Axten’s have become “Loyal to the Soil” and have implemented innovative ideas to improve their soil health and regenerate their farmland. Derek will talk about the systems approach they have used to improve the sustainability, profitability and productivity of their farm using practices such as no-till, intercropping, cover crops and livestock integration.

Keith Brown, Williams County SCD Soil Health & Cropping System Specialist, will walk participants through the Web Soil Survey. The Web Soil Survey provides useful soil data and information that can be accessed by anyone with a computer and Internet access. It is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. He will also talk about tracking soil health to document improvements for potential paybacks.

One of the five soil health principles is plant diversity. A strategy to add more diversity that some producers are exploring is intercropping. Justin Jacobs, Irrigation Research Specialist with the Williston Research Extension Center will provide an update on intercropping research being conducted at the WREC.

Lunch will be served following the workshop. To participate in the lunch please call the Williams County Soil Conservation District at 701-572-6729, extension 3 by December 16. The Williston Research Extension Center is located west of Williston at 14120 Hwy 2. For more information on the workshop, please call the Williams County NRCS and SCD office or contact Keith Brown at 701-648-9841.


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