Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Healthy Farms Conference Breakout Sessions II

Panel: Pesticide Drift & Organic Farms

This will be a panel of farmers presenting their experiences with pesticide drift onto their organic crops. Each farmer will review their own experience, and then will field questions from the floor for the entire panel.

Marnie Jensen; Partner at Husch Blackwell specializing in Food & Agribusiness Litigation. Marnie provides effective and efficient advice to companies in the food and agribusiness industries. Her clients include organic agriculture trade associations and food producers, manufacturers and distributors. Marnie is also on the board of directors for NSAS. 

Paul Swanson; is a Certified Educator in Holistic Management, Organic Farmer and Re-careered Extension Educator. Paul’s training was with Alan Savory.

Alison Krohn; operates a part-time prairie seed business: Shoestring Acres Seed. Native grasses and wildflowers are grown and harvested from her family's farm in Antelope County, south of Clearwater, Ne. During the week she lives in Lincoln and works for the Nebraska Department of Roads inspecting construction and maintenance projects in the southeast part of the state to ensure environmental compliance with various permits. She has a diverse work background from harvesting seed for Prairie Plains Resource Institute to teaching in the Landscape Architecture program at North Dakota State University. For 10 years following graduation she worked for USDA Natural Resources Service as a landscape architect and RC&D Coordinator across several states in the southeast and mid-Atlantic U.S. Alison grew up in Illinois and has a BA in Philosophy from Rockford College and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Illinois.

Managing Crops, Profitably, for Wetlands and Wildlife

Advances in precision agriculture allow growers to pinpoint fertility inputs and manage irrigation water to maximize productivity. Evaluating physical and inherent soil landscape properties in less productive areas often provides opportunities to benefit wildlife through reduces inputs or participation in financial assistance programs.  Learn about the wildlife needs growers can satisfy when managing low yielding zones.

Zach Rigg operates an agricultural and land management consulting business, Rigg Soil Solutions and is affiliated with Vantage Agri Services, Inc. of Avoca, NE. Rigg has spent the past two decades inventorying and evaluating soil landscapes to help growers maximize sustainable agricultural productivity and restore the function of native plant communities. He has managed wildlife and agricultural resources for the US Air Force and the US Forest Service as a Soil Scientist in seven states from Ohio to North Dakota. In addition, Rigg has planned and assisted implementation of soil quality improvement and wildlife enhancement on tens of thousands of acres in Nebraska and Missouri through various positions with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Rigg was one of the founding members of the Nebraska NRCS Soil Health Team and aided many early adopting growers apply soil health principals in Southeast Nebraska. Rigg earned a B.S. in Agronomy with a Soil Science emphasis in 2004 which was preceded by four years of service in the US Air Force. He is dedicated to teach growers ways to exploit productive landscapes and minimize excessive inputs on less productive areas. Rigg seeks management strategies that provide mutual benefits to agricultural systems and wildlife.

Improving Wetlands Using Holistic Grazing of Dairy Cattle & Low Impact Crossings

Without disturbance wetlands become overrun with invasive species, holistic grazing with low impact crossings will be explored to improve wetlands and provide valuable forage. Holistic grazing using dairy cows and pastured poultry, including low impact wetland crossings, will be implemented and monitored with results shared at a public open house.  Best practices will be explored though a farmer forum with area wetland graziers.

William & Crystal Powers; Darby Springs Farm. The farm, Darby Springs Farm, is 40 acres (18 pasture, 20 wetlands). This year, five dairy cows, 50 laying hens and 400 broiler chickens were raised on pasture. During the project timeframe, the farm will be expanding to 1000 broilers, and 200 layers. Crystal and William both grew up on farms and have been raising dairy cows and poultry for four years together.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2016 Healthy Farms Conference Keynote!

Molly Haviland, Microherders Manifesto; A Journey to Understand Thermal Composting

Certified Soil Life Consultant, Haviland Earth Regeneration. Molly has a B.S. degree in sustainable living and is an affiliate professor at the Maharishi University of Management where she co-teaches with world renowned soil microbiologist Dr. Elaine Ingham. She is co-founder of the Living Soil Compost Lab and is a Holistic Soil Life Consultant. As a microherder, Molly understands how to cultivate beneficial soil organisms, merge them into growing systems, and encourage them to thrive in that location. She has worked with compost operations, graziers, and growers to develop the highest quality compost and compost amendments designed specifically for the desired crop. She introduces her audiences to the foundational principals of cultivating the soil foodweb and the myriad benefits from its presence. She demonstrates how the soil foodweb is a tool that, when used correctly, has been proven to provide maximum yields with increased mineral and nutrient content, components essential for thriving plants, animals, and human communities.

Micro-herder’s Mission Statement:

To the best of my ability I will inspire, educate, and evolve the understanding of Soil Building’s relevance to a healthy world community.  By maintaining a systematic approach to documenting observations and data, I will supply the community with the knowledge base it needs to launch forward into thermal composting from where I leave off. Ultimately this project is with respect to the primacy of the planet. I aspire to align myself with Natural Law. Through curiosity, careful observation, honesty, and humility, I am an ally to Nature’s healing processes. 

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – The whole world is a single family

Find more information about Ms. Haviland at

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Weekly Events & Opportunities in Sustainable Farming & Foods!

Farm Financial Tips and Managment Information

Monday, December 7. 10:30am. To help farmers, producers and farm business owners who want to gain insight into improving financial management, Ohio State University Extension is offering a free, four-part webinar series on managing risk and financial management. The series, called “Ready, Set, Go: Preparing Farms to Successfully Manage Risk,” can help participants better understand their financial situation by focusing on financial statements and using them to their advantage, said Chris Bruynis, an OSU Extension educator. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the college. This webinar titled, Using Financial Data to Drive Decisions, will focus on the following areas: • Determining risk capacity. Capital improvement plan — short and long term.  Individual enterprise analysis to determine profitable enterprises. Decision time using case farms. To register for the free series, click on the link to the website below.

Nebraska Conservation Summit

The Nebraska League of Conservation Voters and Nebraska Conservation Education Fund are excited to announce that the 2015 Nebraska Conservation Summit will be December 7th at the Scott Conference Center in Omaha. We hope you will join us at this exciting event! This year’s Summit is centered on the theme of Water. At the Summit, we will explore how the global water crisis impacts Nebraska and how we can act to ensure water sustainability for future generations.

National Vegetable Grafting Symposium

December 7. Grand Rapids, Michigan. The 4th National Vegetable Grafting Symposium focuses on "Growing New Roots for the Vegetable Industry in the United States." Sessions include an overview of vegetable grafting today, propagation for grafting, and grafting production systems. There will also be poster presentations during the meeting.

Acres USA Conference and Eco-Ag U

December 8-11. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Eco-Ag U offers optional, intensive courses by eco-farming's top consultants, practitioners, and thinkers for advanced learning. The conference features presentations by some of the world's leading authorities and practitioners of ecological agriculture, including successful large-scale farmers, leading consultants, and cutting-edge scientists. Special rooms are dedicated to eco-consultants and staffed throughout the day by some of the leading advisors in eco-agriculture. For more than 40 years this annual conference has changed lives, improved farming practices, and served up a lot of fun.

Land Matters: Making New Solutions Possible Through Technology

Wednesday, December 9 at 9:00 am CST. Speakers: Christopher Barlow,Thomson Reuters, Trevor Davies, KPMG, Mercedes Stickler, USAID. Join an online discussion about how land tenure, rights and security affect the world's poorest. Land is a difficult resource to manage, especially in countries without stable systems in place. But finding ways to effectively and sustainably administer it is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. While land rights, tenure and security are already priorities for the public sector and the world's largest development donors, the private sector too has an important role to play in ensuring effective land and property management. Register at

Market Research Webinar

Wednesday, December 9 at 11:00 am CST. Market research is an important part of a marketing and business plan.  This webinar will review  the basics of marketing research, identifying a customer and market research tools. For more information: To register:

An Integrated Approach to Managing Yellowmargined Leaf Beetle in Crucifer Crops

December 9. Online. Join eOrganic at 2 pm Eastern Time for a free, one-hour webinar on an integrated approach to managing Yellomargined Leaf Beetle (YMLB) in Crucifer Crops on organic farms. This webinar will provide advanced IPM information related to trap crops, attractants, and biorational insecticides. It will conclude with a detailed discussion of organic integrated pest management strategies suitable for multiple pest problems in organic and conventional crucifer production systems.

SNR Fall Research Seminar

December 9.  3:30 pm. UNL's East Campus, Hardin Hall. Mary Bomberger Brown, research assistant professor and program coordinator at the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership, presents this free and public seminar. Brown joined the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership as program coordinator in 2007. The Partnership, based in the School of Natural Resources, was established in 1999 as a cooperative endeavor by the University of Nebraska, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the aggregate mining industry, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust. 

Basics of avian influenza

Thursday, December 10 at 2:00 pm CST. There is a lot of information available on avian influenza but it can be bit confusing. This webinar will discusses the basics of what avian influenza is and what small and backyard flock owners need to know to keep their chickens healthy.

Livestock and Wildlife Interactions—Using targeted grazing to develop wildlife habitat

December 10. Online. This free webinar is part of the Targeted Grazing On-The-Ground series presented by the Targeted Grazing Committee of the Society for Range Management. This session is presented by Dr. John Hendrickson, ARS Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory.

Fostering Science Literacy

December 11th. UNL's East Campus Keim Hall.  3:30 pm–4:30 pm. Cory Forbes, associate professor, Science Education, Science Literacy Coordinator, UNL School of Natural Resources, will present findings from educational research programs focused on elementary (3rd grade) students’ reasoning about plant structure, function, growth and development. These findings lay the foundation for a new project to develop, implement, and study the impact of science units that are designed to foster student learning about core life sciences concepts. Join us in person or online at

National Conference on Grazing Lands

December 13-16. Grapevine, Texas. National Grazing Lands Coalition will host a 6th National Conference on Grazing Lands, including a special Grazing Land Soil Health tour of Texas. Sessions during the three-day event will address cover crops, soil health, grazing and forage management, business management, grazing weeds, water quality, and more.


Growing Farmers Training Program

January to April 2016. If you want to start your own small farm, the Community Crops Growing Farmers Winter Workshops are just for you! This series of twelve workshops is designed to give you a solid foundation from which you can build your own successful small farm business. In addition, graduates who need land are eligible to farm at the Prairie Pines Incubator Farm. For more information:

Big Garden is hiring

Big Garden in Omaha is currently seeking a qualified candidate to fill the position of Programming Coordinator. This position will involve volunteer coordination, attending community events, engaging with gardeners and diverse community members, organic gardening, and some administrative duties. This is a perfect position for a person who enjoys being out in the field, communicating regularly with people, and has experience and interest in sustainable agriculture. Please visit for application instructions or contact Executive Director Nathan Morgan 

Farm and Ranch Project Staff Attorney Job Opening: Legal Aid of Nebraska

In case someone here has interest or knows someone who has an interest, Legal Aid of Nebraska is seeking a Staff Attorney in its Farm & Ranch Project. Listing is here: 


I have 150 irrigated acres in Western Douglas County that I will be available for cash rent spring of 2016. Jeaniffr Snide, G&J Snide Farms LLC,

Survey seeks opinions of women livestock farmers

USDA Small Business Innovation Research grant to study the tool- and equipment-related needs of women livestock farmers. To assist Green Heron in designing better tools and equipment, women who raise or care for livestock of any kind are invited to complete a brief survey.   The survey will be open through September, and respondents who complete it will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Green Heron Tools gift certificate. Begun by two small-scale farmers with backgrounds in nursing and public health, Green Heron is the first company in the world to focus on scientifically designing agricultural tools and equipment that work well for women. For more information please visit Complete the survey at

Farm Family Placement Opportunity

'We are a family of four (with two kids), we are looking for any possibility that can lead us to live in the country (no more than one hour and a half driving from the farm to the city of Lincoln). We are specially looking for a farm/ house with a piece of land that is organic oriented .  Please do not hesitate to contact us for any queries (Cell phone; 402-4059195). Thanks. Troy Van Horn".

Looking for Mentorship in Shelton/Grand Island/Kearney Area.

My family and I are returning to Shelton, NE in order to re-establish her family's farm. It is 160 acres but hasn't been used in nearly 30 years. We are going to be establishing a Joel Salatin Polyface Farm type farm. Where we will raise a multi specie critical and threatened heritage breed livestock as determined by the Livestock Conservancy Organization. All livestock will be pastured raised. We are also going to establish seasonal vegetable gardens. Looking for mentorship opportunities in the Shelton/Grand Island/Kearney area that would be willing to help us learn the does and don'ts of pasture based all natural farming. Michael Peña,

Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Survey 

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is working with the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI) to better understand experiences with crop insurance and with a new crop insurance product called Whole-Farm Revenue Protection. Whole-Farm Revenue Protection is a pilot crop insurance policy available for the 2015 crop insurance year. The policy provides crop insurance coverage based on a farm’s 5-year revenue history, and it enables a farm to insure more than one crop with one policy. The link to the survey is about this survey can be directed to James Robinson at 919-542-1396 ext. 209 or


Introduction to Sustainable Farm Law

December 15. Online. In this Farm Commons webinar, beginning farmers will get an overview of the many legal issues to be aware of when starting out. This tutorial serves as an introduction to the legal subjects that Farm Commons covers in its tutorials and guides. The webinar will touch on questions such as the following: What business entity should a farmer choose? Which insurance policies are really important? What are the essential points to cover in a farmland lease?

Animal Behavior Impacts on Grazing Management Decisions

December 15. Online. This free, one-hour webinar is presented by the Science and Technology Deputy Area of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Webinar: Log-Grown Shiitake Mushrooms

December 16, 11am – 12pm. The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri invites you to participate in the Agroforestry in Action Webinar Series. "Log-Grown Shiitake Mushrooms: A Case Study in Profitable Agroforestry Adoption." Please join us Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM (CST) for a live presentation by: Steve Gabriel, Extension Agroforestry Specialist, Cornell Small Farms Program. For more information about the event, visit

Nitrogen Management in Organic Strawberries: Challenges and approaches

December 16. Online. Join eOrganic for a webinar on nitrogen management in organic strawberries, by Carol Shennan and Joji Muramoto of the University of California, Santa Cruz and Mark Gaskell of the University of California Cooperative Extension. The free webinar begins at 2 pm Eastern and advance registration is required. This webinar will address the challenges of nitrogen management in strawberries, pattern of nitrogen uptake over plant growth cycle, and synchronizing N supply, pre-plant amendments, and leaching losses, as well as issues with fertigation efficiency.

USDA's New Cooperative Approach to Farmer Food Safety Certification

December 17. Online. GroupGAP is a new service (available Spring 2016) from USDA to audit farmers to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). In GroupGAP, a food hub, support organization, or central business entity collaborates with producers to establish site-specific best practices for complying with a food safety standard. The group develops and implements a quality management system (QMS) built to an international standard that can be measured, analyzed, reviewed, and continually improved. In this free webinar from the National Good Food Network, hear the experience of a few of the trailblazers: groups who have already received GroupGAP certification.

Bovine Fatty Acids: From Forage to Milk Webinar

December 17. Online. Join eOrganic for a webinar about grass forage species in grazing systems on certified organic dairy farms. In this webinar, PhD students Melissa Brainbridge and Caleb Goossen will provide an overview of bovine fatty acids, and how pasture and other fresh forages like summer annuals affect the fatty acid profile of milk as well as animal production. The webinar is free and open to the public; advance registration is required.

Insurance for the Farm: Policies and Principles to Efficiently Manage Risk

December 22. Online. This tutorial from Farm Commons will cover common insurance options and how to navigate them to find the right policy for your farm. The webinar will answer questions such as the following: What’s a farm liability policy and is it the same as a property/casualty policy? How does it work with a homeowner’s policy? Is workers’ compensation required and how does it work? When do I need to look into getting a commercial policy? What are affordable crop insurance options for the sustainable farm? This tutorial will help you better understand the risks you are taking in your farm business and how to best manage them.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Healthy Farms Conference Breakout Sessions I

Elders of Sustainable Agriculture Panel Discussion

This session will be a sharing of wisdom and experiences from seasoned veterans of sustainable and organic agriculture. Our aim with this panel is that it is a conversation on sustainable agriculture, where it's come, where it's going and what's going on. The panel will feature farmers from across the state that are also longtime NSAS members including; Paul Rohrbaugh from Steinauer, Dennis Demmel from Grant and Jim Knopik from Fullerton.

Paul Rohrbaugh and family have been on their ranch for nearly 35 years. They have raised three sons on the ranch and involved them in all aspects of the operation. They have used management intensive grazing of their grassland since mid-80s, utilizing poultry, sheep, and cattle. They also utilize rotational haying and fire to improve the grasses. They direct market under the name of Pawnee Pride Meats (chosen by ballot from their sons). There are now seven grandchildren that all “help” in various capacities. Paul is a previous director of NSAS. 

Dennis Demmel has been farming in Perkins County since 1983. The farm consists of 1800 acres of dryland & irrigated crops of wheat, barley, corn, millet among other crops. The farm has been certified organice since 2007.  The farm also has cattle which are owned by a business partner and graze the crop residue and the cover crops. Dennis has bee recognized throughout the years for his work with organic agriculture and conservation including the 1994 Agriculture Stewardship Award from NSAS, the Master Conservationist Award from the Omaha World Herald in 2003 & the Nebraska Forest Stewardship Award in 2001, to name a few. Dennis has served as President of the BOD for NSAS, as well as the Ag Advisory committee for Congressman Tom Osborne.  

Jim Knopik grew up on a farm near North Star, Nebraska, a village that no longer exists. In 1967, he married Carolyn and they rented their own farm, eventually becoming one of the larger conventional farmers in the area. After twenty years, they realized they were farming more for large companies, and it wasn't something they would ask their children to do. They downsized, began farming organically, and formed a group called North Star Neighbors which they now manage by marketing and delivering meat raised by their members. Jim actively works with others trying to establish fair and new markets for small farmers. Jim and Carolyn have four children and eleven grandchildren all living within 30 miles of their home. Family and neighbors are their most important resource.

Cover Crops for the Commodity Grower with Nate Belcher

This session will be geared for the commodity grower and will cover; What are cover crops and why do they matter? Benefits of using cover crops; Soil biology and nutrient cycling; Choosing the right species; Planting; Management; Termination; Tillage.

Nate Belcher, owner of Green Acres Cover Crops, is passionate and dedicated to helping producers implement farming methods that are regenerative, productive, and financially viable.  Green Acres was founded on the principle that healthy, biologically rich soils are the cornerstone upon which sustainable food production depends on.  The relationship between plants, animals and the land is key to agricultural systems that are self-sustaining and productive which is why Green Acres focus is providing producers with the knowledge and seeds needed to feed their animals, crops, and soils.  Nate lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife Becky and son Rye, and could not be more excited about what the future of farming looks like.

State Policy Down on the Farm and in Your Communities with Traci Bruckner

Come hear about and learn how you can engage in important policy issues to be debated in the Nebraska Legislature. This next legislative session will tackle issues that affect health care, packer ownership of livestock, tax and more. We need your voice engaged in the debate!

Traci Bruckner, Senior Policy Associate, Center for Rural Affairs. She has been with the Center for Rural Affairs since 2001, and serves as their Senior Policy Associate. Traci has worked extensively on state level agriculture policy, as well federal farm policy with the 2002, 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, guiding advocacy to include beginning farmer and rancher provisions in the bill, farm program reform, and conservation and value-added agriculture programs. She holds Bachelor's of Science degrees in political science and sociology.