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Mark your calendars for NCAT’s second Soil Health Innovations Conference: Soil for Water, set for Tuesday and Wednesday, March 15 and 16, 2022. This will be a virtual conference offering plenty of networking opportunities with presenters and fellow attendees.

Join us to hear from presenters such as David Montgomery of the University of Washington and Dig2Grow, Alejandro Carillo of UnderstandingAg, and agroforestry expert Dr. Hannah Hemmelgarn.

Watch our conference website, SOILINNOVATIONS.NCAT.ORG, for a complete agenda and registration information.

We look forward to seeing you in March for this important event.

TerraPurezza was founded by Tina and Orion Weldon in Spicewood, TX in 2015. It has grown to over 1500 acres of native Texas prairie on multiple campuses including the Shield Ranch on Austin’s Barton Creek and Willie Nelson’s Luck Ranch in Spicewood, TX. With backgrounds in nutrition, agriculture, and conservation ecology, the TerraPurezza power couple applies multiple approaches to rejuvenate the land for a more resilient food system. 

TerraPurezza partnered with the Shield Ranch in 2019. Stewarding and protecting the Hill Country ecosystem is the sole purpose of the Shield Ranch. The TerraPurezza-Shield Ranch partnership focuses on producing nutrient-dense food while managing the ranch’s natural resources through rehabilitating soil health, rebuilding native grasslands, and restoring natural water cycles. TerraPurezza manages 65-acres of the 6,800-acre Shield Ranch with adaptive high-density multi-species livestock grazing, which includes pigs, sheep, and poultry.

Click here to read the full story.

The Stowers Ranch was established in 1904 by prominent Texas merchant and rancher George Arthur Stowers. The 11,800 acre operation is located at the headwaters of the North Fork of the Guadalupe River near Hunt, Texas. It is enhanced by over two miles of riverfront and a large beautiful natural lake. Today the Smith family, direct descendants of George Stowers, own and operate the ranch for livestock, hunting, and recreation.

The Smiths chose a small area of the ranch to try something new without major risk. Two transects have been established in a small 30 acre pasture at the Stowers Ranch. This pasture was divided further with temporary electric fencing to create one 18 acre and one 13 acre paddock. 250 head were allowed to graze in each paddock for eight and 12 hours. Grazing this size of a heard in these relatively small paddocks is a demonstration of high stock density for a short duration of time. One pasture will be rested for six months and the other will be rested for one year.

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Katie Forrest and Taylor Collins’ journey to becoming ranchers began in an unusual way. They first developed the nationally marketed EPIC Bar, a jerky based protein bar; then sold their company and followed an inspiration to begin livestock production as a way to improve the environment. Located in the heart of the majestic Hill Country, ROAM Ranch sits on 900 acres of awe inspiring river bottom land on the outskirts of Fredericksburg, TX. Katie and Taylor shared a vision to positively impact large-scale agriculture through producing nourishing food that improves the lives of animals, enriches the health of consumers, and regenerates the land on which we depend. Like much of the world, this once-fertile region has been industrially farmed for the past 100 years. 

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Nestled in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, in Comal County, Pure Pastures is a 2,000-acre multi-species operation that practices 100% regenerative management. Pure Pastures is a collaboration between the Moorman family, the ranch owners and partners in the business, and the Eubank family, the operations managers and business partners.

Lew Moorman was introduced to regenerative agriculture after experiencing health concerns in his family. He realized that the food system needed changing, from the soil up, to improve people’s health. In 2018 Lew set out on a mission to regenerate the food system beginning with improving soil health on his ranch near Canyon Lake, TX. He partnered with Maggie and Jeremiah to develop their business Pure Pastures.

Click here to read the whole story.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology has released a series of 19 videos from its inaugural Soil Health Innovations Conference. The presentations feature nationally recognized experts and innovative farmers from around the U.S. who share the latest in soil science, best practices in soil management, and the emerging technologies that will drive the future of sustainable and regenerative agriculture.

“The Soil Health Innovations Conference occupies the cutting edge of soil health across the country – on-farm practices, soil biology, carbon markets, and public policy,” said Steve Thompson, NCAT executive director. “This set of videos adds to NCAT’s trusted knowledgebase and provides a free resource to any producer or land manager working to improve soil conditions.”

The keynote presentation by Dr. Fred Provenza, one of the country’s leading ecologists, is a highlight of the conference videos. He discusses the link between the health of soils and plants with the health of livestock and the people who eat these foods.

Dr. Robin “Buz” Kloot, a soil health research professor in the Environmental Health Sciences Department at University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, spoke about helping farmers find their way forward using new soil testing techniques.

Other acclaimed speakers featured in these conference videos are Rick Clark of Farm Green, Dorn Cox of OpenTEAM, Dan Kittredge of Bionutrient Food Association, Aria McLauchlan of Land Core, Dr. Bianca Moebius-Clune of American Farmland Trust, and Arohi Sharma of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Presentations from innovative farmers and ranchers included rice, corn, soybean and cotton farmer Adam Chappell from Arkansas, organic walnut grower Russ Lester from California, and beef producer Cooper Hibbard from Montana.

An audience favorite at the conference was the Indigenous and Traditional Soil Health Practices presentation featuring speakers Mila Berhane, Greenland Nursery; Kelsey Ducheneaux-Scott, Intertribal Agriculture Council; Earcine Evans, Francis Flowers and Herbs Farm, and Twila Cassadore, Traditional Western Apache Diet Project.

These videos are free and available on YouTube, ATTRA.NCAT.ORG and SOILINNOVATIONS.NCAT.ORG.

As emerging technologies and innovative practices have made clear, healthy soil will play a foundational role in the future of sustainable, climate-smart agriculture. These innovations come at a time when there is a growing commitment among producers, food companies, policy makers, and consumers to improve the resilience of healthy food systems at their very roots. NCAT’s conference was a unique opportunity for these groups to come together for important conversation.

In this episode of Voices from the Field, Kara Kroeger, a sustainable agriculture specialist with NCAT’s ATTRA sustainable agriculture program, talks with Nicole Masters, a New Zealand agroecologist and director of Integrity Soils.

Listen to the episode, here.

In this episode of Voices from the Field, Kara Kroeger, a sustainable agriculture specialist with NCAT’s ATTRA sustainable-agriculture program, talks with soil specialist Lance Gunderson about the PLFA soil test.

The conversation is the second of two that Kara and Lance have had on ATTRA: Voices from the Field concerning soil tests – last week’s podcast featured Lance’s take on the Haney test. You can find the link to that podcast in the notes below.

Listen to the episode here.