Last week marked the very first Healthy Soil Summit event, and it was a sold-out success! The two-day summit took place in Davis, California, and featured a half-day tour to Blossom Vineyards – led by soil consultant Glen Rabenberg – and the Marrone Bio Innovations facility.  

Following that was a day and a half of intensive sessions all centered around different aspects of soil management. Speaker sessions – find the full descriptions below – highlighted practical techniques and advice from top soil experts, including Gary Zimmer, John Kempf and Glen Rabenberg!

Healthy Soil Summit attendees also enjoyed a welcome mixer – perfect for networking – and 19 companies were on hand to discuss their latest tools and eco-farming innovations.

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Below are some photos from Healthy Soil Summit – but you can find even more by following us on social media! We're on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as @AcresUSA. Feel free to comment, like and share on our posts!

Healthy Soil Summit photos

Check out these highlights from the Healthy Soil Summit!

The tour

Glen Rabenberg talks compost at the Healthy Soil Summit tour

Healthy Soil Summit tour group discusses compost at Blossom Vineyards

Healthy Soil Summit tour stop at Marrone Bio Innovations

Healthy Soil Summit tour visits Marrone Bio Innovations

The Welcome Mixer

A Healthy Soil Summit attendee chats with a vendor at the Wednesday welcome mixer

The sessions

Bill Brush speaks at the Healthy Soil Summit

Gary Zimmer speaks at the Healthy Soil Summit

Gary Zimmer delivers the keynote presentation at the Healthy Soil Summit

John Kempf's Healthy Soil Summit presentation

Healthy Soil Summit speakers and sessions

Here is an overview of the sessions presented at the 2019 Healthy Soil Summit in Davis, California.

Managing Soil for Mineral Health

By Bill Brush, B&B Ag Consulting

Soil fertility expert Bill Brush will address strategies for building better soil by looking at nutrients the soil requires to be fertile. Balancing the minerals in your soil can address many of the challenges to that farmers often face. Don’t miss this opening presentation, which will serve as the foundation for a deeper dive into soil biology and health throughout the remainder of the program.

Improving Water, Nitrogen, and Phosphorus Efficiency 

By John Kempf, Advancing Eco Agriculture

In this workshop AEA’s John Kempf will describe soil nitrogen and phosphorus cycles, how to manage these interactions, prevent nutrient leaching, and enable the greatest plant response with the most efficient use of inputs. It is possible to supply all of a crop’s nitrogen and phosphorus requirements through biologically available nutrients while contributing no fertilizer runoff, and by better managing nitrogen. Water use efficiency can also increase dramatically. Attend this workshop to learn the principles and techniques for best water, nitrogen, and phosphorus management.

Exploring Soil's Microbiome

By Adrian Ferrero, Biome Makers

Combining the latest technology as DNA Sequencing and intelligent computing allows us to monitor soil health by using microbiome as a bioindicator of soil life. This session will dive into what we know about soil microbial life, explore what measuring these communities can tell us about our soil, and how this information can help us better manage for productivity.

KEYNOTE: Driving Productivity and Resilience with Good Soil Health

By Gary Zimmer, Midwestern BioAg

In this non-stop, jam-packed keynote presentation, soil health veteran Gary Zimmer will walk us down a comprehensive journey into farm productivity. From what we know about soil tests and minerals to the rules for getting the most out of your soil life, he will share his decades of experience. He will explore the role of plant food and diversity and also the role of tillage to maximize healthy mineralized soil. You'll walk away from this dynamic session with diverse tools to drive productivity and resilience in your farming system.

Managing Water, Weeds and Disease with a Biotic Mindset

By Brendon Rockey, Rockey Farms

Drought. It brought a biotic mindset to Rockey Farms, revealing options once dismissed for growing healthy, steady yielding potatoes. Today, the 500-irrigated acre specialty seed potato and quinoa operation has no place for toxic chemicals and synthetic inputs in its living, profitable and resilient farm system. Cover crops, livestock grazing and precise mechanical weeding improve the farm’s carbon cycle, which results in maximized water efficiency and infiltration rates in addition to decreasing and manageable weed populations. Companion Crops and Flowering Strips build upon these fundamentals, creating habitat that competes with weed populations and provides resources for beneficial insects to thrive, providing a successful Integrated Pest Management tool when controlling vector viruses.

Regenerative Agriculture on a California Ranch: Live Podcast Interview

By John Kempf, Advancing Eco Agriculture

Join John Kempf for a live version of the Regenerative Agriculture Podcast featuring Vernon Peterson of Peterson Family Farm and Abundant Harvest Organics. John and his guest will discuss effective approaches to pest and disease challenges as well as soil health in the context of California’s issues with weather and water. Attend to learn how growers are navigating California’s regulatory and labor challenges, and the economic success of regenerative farming practices.

How to Identify and Correct the Cause of the #1 Limiting Factor in Global Agricultural Production

By Glen Rabenberg, Soil Works

Weeds, disease, and poor water penetration are symptoms of compacted unhealthy soil. Agricultural has become accustomed to reacting to these symptoms with chemicals, micro-nutrients, and tillage. Correcting the cause of soil compaction restarts the soil ecosystem allowing oxygen and water to penetrate the soil profile eliminating the dependency on reacting to symptoms. In his presentation, Glen Rabenberg will show you how to identify soil compaction, teach you what causes compaction, and leave you with a five-step approach to restore soil health and correct the cause.

Bio-Based Solutions for Pest Management and Plant Health

By Pam Marrone, Marrone Bio Innovations

As growers seek to increase pest resistance, regulations on environmental and worker safety become more stringent, and consumers demand safer, more sustainable food, biologicals (biopesticides and biostimulants) are enjoying an increasingly prominent role in crop protection programs. The evolution of biologicals as a more trusted and reliable tool in a grower’s toolbox, however, would not have been possible without advances in science, technology and manufacturing processes that have made biologicals more effective. The majority of growers may have heard the terms “biopesticides” or “biologicals,” but may be unclear on their modes of action and when and how to use them successfully in integrated pest management and crop production programs. This talk will outline the foundational concepts of the biologicals category, discuss how and when to use them and illustrate some of the exciting new developments.

PANEL: Ask the Experts

In this closing session, we bring the Summit's lessons all together with the help of our expert speakers and open it up for questions. You won't want to miss this unique opportunity to capitalize on the tremendous expertise and experience of these agricultural leaders.

Future Acres U.S.A. events

Coming up next in 2019 is the Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show this December in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The 44th annual conference will continue its tradition of offering high quality content and top-notch expert speakers.  

Eco-Ag U workshops are intensive, all-day sessions that will take place Dec. 9 and 10. 

The conference and trade show will take place Dec. 10-12.

To learn more and stay up to date on the latest, visit the Acres USA events website and sign up for the News & Announcements email newsletter

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