Sustainable Ag Crops & Livestock Conference
“The Value of Livestock on the Land” is the theme for the Annual Western Sustainable Ag Crops and Livestock Conference set for Dec. 5 at Ogallala.
Speakers with experience in both the real world and scientific research will share what they’ve learned about integrating crops and livestock, alternative crops, forages, crop rotations, attaining sustainability, and other topics.
The conference will take place at the Ogallala Extended Campus Mid-Plains Community College, 512 East B St., South, from 8:45 a.m. until 4 p.m. Pre-registration is due by Nov. 25. To download a brochure and registration form, go to http://ckb.unl.edu. For more information about the conference or exhibitor booths, contact Extension Educator Karen DeBoer at the UNL Extension Office in Sidney; telephone 308-254-4455; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsors include University of Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society (NSAS) and Organic Crop Improvement Association Nebraska Chapter 2.
Keynote speaker Jerry Glaser’s topic is “Can Organic Production be Sustainable with Livestock and Crop?” Glaser, a farmer and rancher from Spalding, will discuss how he and his wife, Cindy, have grown their operation to include 750 irrigated acres of organic crops and pasture that supports a 400-head cow-calf operation and organic grass-finished beef.
Jerry and his wife, Cindy, joined the family farm with his parents in 1985 and took over the operation in 2006, when his father retired. Their farm-ranch operation lays at the foot of the Nebraska Sandhills, about 60 miles north of Grand Island.
In the late 1990s Jerry began to notice the deterioration of the soil and quality of the crops with common farming practices. This was the beginning of a transition to biological and sustainable production. In 2008, they sold their first grass-finished beef and in 2009 they had their first organic crop harvested. As of 2015, all cattle grown and crops raised should qualify for certified organic production.
The Glaser’s’ rotation program uses popcorn or corn, beans and small grains and forages, followed by alfalfa grass mixes. They believe this rotation and cover crops with quality inputs builds the soil life. Their goal is to have healthy soils, healthy plants, healthy livestock and healthy people who purchase our products. They believe in the small sustainable farm, which promotes vitality for the community and involvement of the next generation in agriculture. They sold 25 percent of the cow herd to a young man brought into the operation.
Jerry and Cindy have been married for 36 years and have a married daughter, granddaughter and grandson. Jerry is a Nebraska LEAD XXIII Fellow and Cindy a LEAD Fellow in Class of XXV.
Other workshop topics at the Sustainable Ag conference include:
“Maximizing resources and value-added for sustainability in the future:” Jerry and Cindy Glaser will further discuss how they have used crop rotations, cover crops, mob grazing and other practices to build their soils.
“Production of Organic Potato Dry Matter” and “Agronomic Parameters for Fenugreek Production:” Dr. Alexander Pavlista, UNL Professor and Crop Physiologist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff, will discuss the market for organic potato dry matter and starch for industries such as organic pet food. He will also discuss Fenugreek, an ancient medicinal crop not grown in the United States, but primarily produced in India. Topics include planting and harvesting dates and irrigation requirements.
“Manure Application Research:” Dr. Merle Vigil, Research Leader and Soil Scientist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Central Great Plains Research Station at Akron, Colo., will share yield and soil quality changes that his team has measured in their six-year experiment evaluating how to best remediate eroded hill top soils using cropping systems, no-tillage and manure amendment.
“Replacing Summer Fallow with Grain-Type Field Peas in Semiarid Cropping Systems: Sustainability and Agronomic Evaluation:” Strahinja Stepanovic, Extension Educator from Grant, will discuss results from the 2015 field pea study, including impact of summer fallow vs field peas on water use, nutrient cycling, beneficial insects, soil health, and yield on succeeding wheat crop and economics; economically optimum seeding rates; seeding depths; inoculum types; herbicide programs; and best varieties.
“Integrating Livestock into Dryland Cropping Systems:” Dr. Cody Creech, UNL Assistant Professor and Dryland Cropping Systems Specialist from Scottsbluff, will discuss how diversification of production systems allows producers to better withstand market volatility. This presentation will cover the pros and cons of using livestock in a water-limited system in western Nebraska.
“Utilizing Annual Forages in a Grazing Livestock System:” Dr. Nancy Peterson, General Manager of Plum Thicket Farms of Gordon, will discuss the ways her family’s operation is incorporating annual forages into their grazing plan, including the costs of growing them, management techniques, and grazing records.