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News Release

Soil Health Short Course to offer Land Managers Educational Information

Nathan Haile, State Soil Health Specialist

Temple, Texas, Jan. 4, 2016 – The Texas Soil Health Short Course will focus on building a functioning foundation Feb. 22-23, 2017 at the Region 9 Educational Center in Wichita Falls, Texas. Short course partners expect more than 300 farmers, ranchers, professors, land managers, researchers, public officials, conservationists and students to attend this multi-state short course. The workshop will offer attendees a greater understanding of dynamic soil properties including water infiltration, water holding capacity, and organic matter content. Producer’s practical approaches to implementing a Soil Health Management System on their farm will also be discussed.

“We are very excited to bring this opportunity to farmers and ranchers in Texas,” says Nathan Haile, soil health specialist with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Texas. “The topic of soil health is now found in every major farm magazine, at farm shows, and in publications across the nation.  This is a great opportunity to better define soil health and why it is important to growers.”

According to Haile, Texas has been instrumental in promoting Soil Health nation-wide through Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) and research completed by the short course partners and presenters. The workshop will be an opportunity for those speakers to share their findings with producers.

“Soils are the foundation of life and the factory of biological workers that help us provide necessities for our society,” Haile says. “They serve many roles for water capture and filtration, carbon storage and cycling, pollution breakdown, and much, much more.

“Understanding how to manage the soil to improve that factory’s efficiency is critical for farmers and rancher, not only for their own economic benefit but the benefit of the nation.”

The short course will feature leading researchers and producers in soil health. Speakers include Dr. Paul Delaune, assistant professor Texas A&M Research; Terry McAlister, Wichita County farmer; Dr. Jason Warren, Oklahoma State University associate professor and extension specialist; Dr. Bob Steward, director of dryland agriculture, Texas A&M Canyon; Steve Marten, Archer County farmer; and Clay Pope, Oklahoma producer and liaison with the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub.

The short course’s unique format will pair researchers with farmers to provide the scientific dynamic soil properties followed by practical on-farm approaches to implementation.  The five Soil Health Principles will point out how soil properties are improved thru implementation of that principle, followed by conservation practices that producers use to achieve that principle.  Conservation demonstrations and soil pits will be used to show how a soil health system has improved water infiltration, soil porosity, increase biological activity, and greater nutrient efficiency. The short course will also feature a “My Land to Your Tap” social hour on February 22 that will feature a Rainfall Simulator. This demonstration will provide insight on how functioning soil is important to water providers and users downstream.

Early bird registration is $75 for the short course and $25 for the field tour by February 1, 2017, followed by regular registration of $100 and $40 respectively.  For more registration information, or opportunities to exhibit or participate in poster presentations visit the Soil Health Short Course on the NRCS Texas website or call 817-550-7738.