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Building Healthy Soil Ecology: Investing in Your Farm's Bottom Line

Practical, How-to, Take-home Information for Farmers Cultivating a Sense of Humus!

Building healthy soil ecology brings the additional benefits of water efficiency and water stewardship. The increased water-holding capacity of soils rich in organic matter will translate to better crop yields in times of drought. And carbon-rich soil will sequester more carbon, helping reverse climate change.
Inspired by this year’s conference theme of “Regenerating Our Soils and Water,” we’ve gathered farmers, orchardists and researchers to interpret recent insights and new understanding of biological soil science, with step-by-step practical methods you can use on your farm.
  • Rex Dufour, of NCAT-ATTRA, will describe the role of organic matter to support soil ecology, increasing retention of water and nutrients. Rex’s expertise lies in organic and ecological pest management, ecological soil management, and farmscaping. He emphasizes that good pest management and healthy plants begin with healthy soils.
  • Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, will discuss key principles for controlling plant disease through crop nutrition—especially nutrient/micronutrient interactions. Dr. Huber’s in-depth understanding will help you identify how managing your crop’s nutrition can increase production and sustain your farm’s ecosystem. 
  • Carl Rosato of Woodleaf Farm in Oroville, CA will share his experience with organic no-till orchard management over the past 33 years. He will talk about managing diverse high-carbon plant residue amendments to cycle/recycle nutrients and create habitat for beneficial soil microorganisms and the enemies of insect pests. Carl will address practical methods to build soil organic matter and balance nutrients.
  • Helen Atthowe of Biodesign Farm in Stevensville, MT will explain how she manages competition from living mulches and weeds, building soil organic matter while cycling nutrients rapidly for good yields of annual crops. She will report on a 2012-2015 WSARE grant on soil and pest management in six successful “eco-organic” farms in California, Oregon, and Colorado.
  • Chris Hay of Say Hay Farms in Esparto, CA will detail his experience transitioning 30 acres of conventionally managed high-clay ground to organic certification. He will tell us how he integrated pastured poultry, increased biomass, reduced weeds, and saved money on cover-crop seed.
  • Russ Lester of Dixon Ridge Farms in Winters, CA has been farming walnuts organically since 1989. He will discuss his use of composted manure and perennial no-till cover crops managed with mowing. Russ and his crew recycle walnut hulls into the orchard, also adding bio-char made with walnut shells. 


Registration: $85 (organic lunch included)

Date and Location


Thank you to our EcoFarm 2023 sponsors!