NRCS-CO: Farmers and Ranchers Continue to Make Eastern Colorado’s Farming Evolution Workshop…A MUST SEE EVENT
Denver, CO March 18, 2019 – Eastern Colorado’s 2019 Farming Evolution workshop drew hundreds of attendees and marks the 8th year of the highly popular event. This workshop has grown from a demonstration of a rainfall simulator to a hand-full of landowners by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to one of Colorado’s most sought-after events of the year. Today’s workshops are designed to provide farmers and ranchers with a peer to peer educational experience and information from technical experts from around the world, who help may revolutionize farming and ranching operations.
“This is a great workshop for farmers, ranchers and really anyone who wants to learn more about soil health, and its success comes directly from word of mouth. After the rainfall simulator field demonstration, interest in seeing and learning more about soil health grew from one farmer to another and the rest is history,” says Dan Palic, NRCS District Conservationist for Holyoke and Julesburg, CO. “It is great to see how the workshop has grown because we provide assistance on an individual basis to so many who still seek us out about this subject. This workshop allows us to reach hundreds at a time along with other technical experts and landowners who share experiences, both successes and failures in their soil health journeys.”
World renowned Australian soil scientist and carbon expert Dr. Christine Jones presented the keynote for the 2019 session. Dr. Jones discussed building new topsoil and educating the audience on the declining nutritional value of today’s food supply. Dr. Jones discussed the importance of healthy, biologically-active soil, which leads to healthy food and healthy people.
In a publication to the New South Wales Government’s Department of Land & Water Conservation, Jones wrote, “Most of our grasslands and croplands aren’t as healthy as we’d like them to be. They are often characterized by areas of bare ground, sheet and gully erosion, the presence of weeds and the lack of desirable plant species. It is easy to assume that removing the weeds and replanting some ‘better’ species will solve the problems. Decades of experience have demonstrated that the simplistic approach rarely works. The interactions between animals, plants and soil biota remain out of balance because the over-riding importance of soil management has not been addressed. The resulting shortfalls in ecosystem services, such as nutrient availability, need to be supplemented at our own expense….The true bottom line for any agricultural practice, is whether soil is being formed or lost. If it is being lost, farming will eventually become both ecologically and economically impossible.” She expressed a similar sentiment during her Farming Evolution presentation.
Other featured speakers included Dr. Raj Khosla, professor in Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU). Dr. Kholsa spoke on Precision Nutrient cycling and technology and discussed the connection between soil variability and precise crop inputs while stressing the five R’s for chemical inputs: the Right inputs, in the Right place, in the Right amount, at the Right time and in the Right manner.
Eric Westra, also from CSU, discussed the growing concern and implications of weed resistance to herbicides. Two NRCS employees took the stage, Candy Thomas, State Agronomist in Kansas and Leroy Hall, Area Conservationist in Greeley to discuss ecological nutrient management and present an award for volunteerism in the rural communities respectfully. Conference attendees were also privy to information about satellite imagery and drone technology.
Colorado hosts two workshops per year, one on the Eastern slope as well as the Western slope. They epitomize collaboration between conservation districts, NRCS, private industry, and natural resource districts. The Eastern slope Workshop is sponsored by the Haxtun, Sedgwick, and Yuma County Conservation Districts, Upper Republican Natural Resources Conservation District, Pheasants Forever, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado State Conservation Board, Brian Allmer with the Barn Media network, and Colorado Association of Conservation Districts. This annual event is typically held in January of each year and planning for the 2020 event is already underway.
To view the workshop in it’s entirety, please visit the BARN MEDIA NETWORK and for more information about attending up-coming sessions, please contact Julie.Elliott@co.usda.gov, NRCS Rangeland Management Specialist in Wray, CO.