Virtual shop talks focus on stewarding resources in hard times

john mcgrath
UK’s Josh McGrath, shown here teaching at an IPM workshop in 2020, will be part of a panel discussing how to manage on-farm nutrients during Virtual Shop Talks for Farmers — photo by Stephen Patton

During challenging times, producers may worry about changing farming practices or find it hard to maintain new ones. Yet, soil health and good stewardship practices are as important during times of stress and uncertainty as they are under more settled circumstances.

Virtual Shop Talks for Farmers is an opportunity for farmers across the Midwest and Mid-South to have meaningful conversations with other farmers and experts about practical ideas and programs that can help them weather hard times and succeed with stewardship practices on their farms. Registration is now open for the free series, which will take place through the social conferencing platform Zoom on four Wednesdays in February and March from 10 -11:30 a.m. EST.

In each session, participants will hear about solutions from specialists and direct experiences from farmers during a 40-minute panel discussion. Afterward everyone will break out into conversation rooms, where they can chat farmer-to-farmer about their experiences, challenges and solutions related to that particular topic.

“I am very excited about this opportunity for farmers to talk to other farmers about how they are using practices to protect soil, water and farming legacies, particularly during challenging times, such as we’ve been experiencing lately,” said Amanda Gumbert, water quality Extension specialist in the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Gumbert is one of the organizers of the event, which is being arranged by an alliance of land-grant universities in Mississippi River Basin states. Collaborating universities include UK, Mississippi State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Arkansas and University of Illinois. The series is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The series will include the following sessions:

Making Conservation Make Cents, Feb.3: Panelists Paul Dietmann of Compeer Financial, farmer Steve Stierwalt of the Illinois STAR program and Arkansas farmer Adam Chappell will lead an economics discussion focused on ways to finance conservation practices.

Re-Thinking How We Manage On-Farm Nutrients, Feb. 17: Panelists Josh McGrath, UK soil management specialist, and Wisconsin farmers Tony Peirick and Dale Macheel will discuss how to maximize the benefits of nutrient resources through manure utilization and cover crop management.

Making Progress through On-Farm Trials, March 3: Participants will engage with farmers who are embracing innovative approaches and stressful conditions to improve their own operations. Panelists to be announced.

Farmer-to-Farmer Perspectives to Help You Nail Down Your Next Steps, March 17: A discussion about the economics, practicality and reality of conservation practices in times of farm stress. This session will be an all-farmer panel.

“We invite you to connect with like-minded farmers who share your interest in having a profitable operation, productive soils and clean water,” Gumbert said.

Click for information and registration

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