If you’re interested or involved in organic farming, check out the great line-up of experts coming to the Minnesota Organic Conference, January 14 and 15 at the St. Cloud Civic Center.

Soil biologist Jill Clapperton, will lead beginning and advanced sessions about the important role soil biology plays in improving soil health and productivity. She will discuss specific soil and crop management practices that enhance soil biological properties and give farmers the opportunity to take advantage of soil biological fertility. Clapperton worked professionally in Canada and now operates a consulting business in Montana.

Michigan Extension Educator Dale Mutch has worked on integrated pest management, weed control, and organic methods and is well known for his expertise in cover cropping.  Most recently, he has been testing no-till organic strategies and developed an innovative way to plant cover crops by mixing the seed into a manure slurry tank and seeding during manure application.  Mutch will deliver two sessions; one about cover crops and the other about weed management.

Sarah Slaby, DVM, is a Wisconsin large animal veterinarian with both conventional and organic clients in her practice. She will deliver a talk on natural remedies for treating dairy cattle and will hold an open “Ask the Vet” forum.

Robert Caldwell and Cameron Genter work for organic certifying agencies located in Oregon and Wisconsin, respectively. They will offer practical insights on the new, stricter grazing requirements for organic cattle that went into effect earlier this year.  Animals must now get at least 30 percent of their nutrition from actively growing pasture during the grazing season, and producers are responsible for performing calculations to document that their herds are meeting or exceeding this goal. 

Nebraska Extension Educator and cattleman Terry Gompert will deliver two conference sessions - one on grass finishing beef (including topics like markets and marketing, genetics and forage budgets), and another session about holistic management, a decision making process that works extremely well for farming operations.

Chris Blanchard, a commercial organic vegetable grower from Northeast Iowa who uses multiple marketing strategies, will give talks about “right sizing” a vegetable operation and marketing for retail sales.  Blanchard is a perennial audience favorite at the conference.

The conference features three keynote presenters, 35 educational sessions and a trade show.  Full schedule, cost, and registration information are available at www.mda.state.mn.us/organic or by calling (651) 201-6012. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged.      

Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture