As water continues to be a scarce resource and concerns about food security grow, farmers need to make sure they maintain healthy soil to maximize the production of quality crops. To help growers, the University of Nevada, Reno Extension is offering an online seven-week workshop series from Aug. 30 to Oct. 11 on understanding and managing soil health, as well as an in-person day of presentations and tours in Fallon in September. 30, “Soil Health and Regenerative Agriculture for the Carson River Watershed.”
“Healthy soil is key to successful crop production,” said Maninder K. Walia, extension assistant and field crop specialist, who put together the online seminar series and will also present at the Sept. 30 event. “By knowing the composition of your soil, how soils function, and ways to manage soil to promote short- and long-term soil health, growers can prevent many problems and make their jobs easier, as well as increase their bountiful harvests.”
Online weekly seminar series
This class series, part of Extension’s Alternative Crops Program, will be held via Zoom on Tuesdays, 10 – 11 am, August 30 – October 11. Presenters include faculty and researchers from the university’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources and its Extension Unit, as well as experts from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and Full Circle Compost. The workshops are free, but registration is required for each event. Workshops include:
- Properties of soilsAug 30 by Walia.
- The importance of soil nutrientsCompost and Fertilizer with Application Rate Calculations, September 6, presented by Cody Witt, Full Circle Compost.
- Increasing C sequestration in soils: Can biochar help?, September 13, presented by Paul Werburg; associate professor of soil science; University of Nevada, Reno.
- Soil health and the relationship with waterSeptember 20, presented by Chuck Schembre, Environmental Scientist, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection.
- Principles of Regenerative Agriculture and Soil HealthSeptember 27, presented by Marlon Winger, Regional Soil Health Specialist (Idaho, Wyoming and Montana), USDA NRCS Division of Soil Health.
- Winter annual cropping systems: Lessons learned after two years of evaluation in Nevada, October 4, presented by Juan Solomon; associate professor of agronomy; University of Nevada, Reno.
- Basics of Composting, October 11, presented by Elaine Feigin; Community Gardening Education Program; University of Nevada, Reno Extension.
Those who register for a workshop will then receive an email with a Zoom link for that workshop. For more information contact Linda Brown.
A Personal Day of Presentations and Tours, “Soil Health and Regenerative Agriculture for the Carson River Watershed”
Part of Extension’s Nevada Herds & Harvest program, this event will be held Sept. 30 at Western States Hemp/Rambling River Ranches, 7491 Reno Highway in Fallon. Workshops and field tours will focus on the principles of soil health and regenerative agriculture and how these practices can improve farm and ranch sustainability and economics while improving and enhancing water quality in rivers and streams.
Local growers and soil health experts from Extension and other agencies will provide insights and lead tours of fields with regenerative farming practices. There will be demonstrations of equipment and the excavation of a soil pit, which enables the determination of a whole range of soil properties. Sessions include:
- Introduction and overview/aim of the workshop, presented by Chuck Schembre, Environmental Scientist, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection – Bureau of Water Quality Planning; and Joe Frey, owner, farmer and workshop host.
- Basics of Soil Healthpresented by Jim Komar, Nevada Soil Scientist, Natural Resources Conservation Service.
- The connection between soil and waterpresented by Chuck Schembre, NDEP – Bureau of Water Quality Planning, Environmental Scientist.
- Cover crops to build soil health in Nevada, presented by Walia, Extension; and Christopher Bernau, Great Basin Plant Materials Center.
- The Producers’ Perspective: Soil Health Management Practice, presented by Frey, on the economics of regenerative practices; and Tim Coverston, Carson Valley grower, on diversified cover crops, alfalfa, farm diversity and soil health basics.
- An introduction to the Carson Water Subconservancy District, the Carson River Coalition Ag Working Group, and our on-farm pilot projectspresented by Brenda Hunt and Shane Fryer, District Watershed Program Manager and Program Specialist, respectively.
- Demonstration of the Soil Precipitation Simulatorpresented by Zahahgir Kabir, NRCS Regional Soil Health Specialist.
- Ramble River Ranch tour and equipment demonstrations, led by Frey. Participants will explore multiple fields under regenerative agriculture and soil health management systems, including silage corn, alfalfa, hemp, and rotational grazing systems. Field observations and discussions will include no-till practice, roller crimping, winter cover, weed issues and weed management, adaptive grazing, adding diversity to alfalfa, improving the farm’s riparian corridor, and more. There will also be a dug soil pit and soil science training.
The event runs from 9am to 4pm, with registration beginning at 8:30am and lunch provided by the Wild Horse Café at 12:15pm.The registration fee is $20 and includes lunch. For more information about this event, contact event organizer Staci Emm, Extension educator.
Extension’s Herds & Harvest program provides year-round training and mentoring to support Nevada farmers. This event is organized by the Carson River Coalition, Beginning Farmers & Ranchers Program and Rambling River Ranch; in cooperation with local producers; Carson Water Subconservancy District; University of Nevada, Reno Extension; Natural Resources Conservation Service; local protected areas; Nevada Department of Environmental Protection; and Western Cover Crops Council – Southwest Regional Committee. This program was funded by the USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Emerging Farmers and Ranchers Development Program, USDA grant # 2020-49400-32321.
Individuals requiring special accommodations or assistance for the online seminars or in-person event should contact Paul Lessick, Extension’s civil rights and compliance coordinator, at least five days prior to the scheduled event with their needs or for more information.