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Registration open for Soil and Soul conference

By Staff | Dec 1, 2012

AMES – Practical Farmers of Iowa is now accepting registrations for its 2013 annual conference, Soil and Soul, set for Jan. 10-12, 2013, at the Scheman Building on the Iowa State University campus in Ames.

This year’s event celebrates the vital role soil plays in sustaining life. Through sessions and networking, attendees will learn how different farming systems and practices help build soil and the communities of plants, animals and people who depend on it.

“I really like attending Practical Farmers of Iowa’s annual conference because it remotivates me – and that’s what winter is all about,” said Ellen Walsh-Rosmann, who farms with her husband, Daniel Rosman, near Harlan. She said this will be her fifth conference. “Then I can do some farm planning and implement new ideas.

“And this year,” she said, “with the drought, and last year with floods in western Iowa, we really learned how valuable soil is for retaining water, and how important it is to rebuild the soil.”

The conference will feature keynote speaker Elaine Ingham, chief scientist at the Rodale Institute and a world-renowned microbiologist.

For more than three decades, Ingham has helped thousands of individuals and companies improve their agricultural practices by gaining a deeper understanding of what soil health means.

In 1996, Ingham founded Soil Foodweb Inc., an international group of soil biology laboratories that analyzes soils for microbial life. The revelations about soil quality distilled through the efforts of her work and these labs have helped farmers around the world grow more resilient crops.

Short courses

PFI is offering three short course options including “Composting Done Right,” “Fearless Farm Finances” and “Tractors 101.”

The composing and finance courses will be held at the Scheman Building. The tractor course will be held at the ISU Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy Research Farm, between Ames and Boone.

All three short courses run on Jan. 10 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and continue on Jan. 11 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

A total of 24 in-depth workshops will span topics ranging from precision agriculture, multi-species grazing and small grains to creating wildlife habitat, season extension and adding cover crops to corn and soybean systems.

Most sessions are led by farmers.

In addition, attendees will get to choose from among 10 Saturday morning breakfast sessions, as well as up to six in-depth sessions organized around topics suggested by guests during conference registration.

Special rates are available for students and PFI members. Those who pre-register by Jan. 2, 2013 will save $10 per day.

Register online at practicalfarmers.org/events/annual-conference.html, or by contacting Patrick Burke at (515) 232-5661.

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