By Michael Cox
Special to the Delta County Independent
The 11th Western Colorado Soil Conference will be an online treasure trove of information and inspiration and is set to go live 7:45 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 11.
This conference is the Western Slope’s premier educational and networking event, according to Mendy Stewart, education coordinator for the Shavano Conservation District, which stages the event along with a number of sponsors.
“The conference is designed to educate producers, orchardists, ranchers, government officials and the broad community,” said Stewart. The educational channels will include ways to increase organic matter and increase the health of our soils by using cover crop, no-till/minimum-till, green manure, grazing, composting, entomology, and other sustainable practices for food and fiber production.
A panel of several of the most sought-after speakers in soil science will be led by internationally recognized soil microbiology researcher and keynote speaker for the conference, Elaine Ingham, Ph.D. Ingham has pioneered research in the field of soil biology over the last four decades and is widely recognized as the world’s foremost soil biologist. Behind Ingham’s user-friendly approach to soil biology lies a wealth of knowledge and research on the different groups of microorganisms that make up the soil food web.
Ingham said her goal is to empower people to bring the soils in their communities back to life using the science of the soil food web. Ingham’s revolutionary approach has been used to restore the ecological functions of living soils all over the world, ensuring healthy, strong plants and super-nutritious food, while eliminating soil erosion and the need for chemical inputs.
Ingham’s keynote topics at the conference include outlining the soil food web and developing your own compost tea.
Jimmy Emmons is a member of the National Association of Conservation Districts’ Soil Health Champions Network and Regional Coordinator for the Southern Plains Region FPAC (Oklahoma). The third-generation farmer will discuss topics involving soils and livestock ranching. Emmons will present a keynote discourse on soil applications on rangeland and with cattle integration, and will conduct a Farmer Q & A panel.
Lowell King, a Fruita producer, who does extensive work in soil regeneration and carbon farming, will be passing on his knowledge on “Regenerative Ag Problem Solving Strategies.” He will stage a breakout session on “Practical Carbon Farming in the Grand Valley.” Also, King and Emmons will team up for another special session.
Stewart said that soil health is critical to the future of agricultural production.
“With a contingent of concerned farmers as well as community groups and government officials, the soil health conference has been able to take soil health education and implement techniques and specifically adjust them for the local area,” she said.
As pressure on agricultural production increases, soil health practices can ensure that agricultural needs are met with sustainable production, quality, and economic viability.
The Western Colorado Soil Health Conference will be held via Zoom. Conference tickets are $25 and can be purchased at westerncoloradosoilhealth.org.
Shavano Conservation District is the fiscal and administrative agent for the Soil Health Conference. Understanding that soil is a treasure, the SCD, in conjunction with Delta County, Mesa Conservation District and individuals active in the agricultural community, have come together to present the 11th annual Western Colorado Soil Health Conference. For more information, visit westerncoloradosoilhealth.org or call the SCD at 970-964-3582.