Farmers can learn about the latest research and technology
for sustainable soil management at a soil health conference,
Soil Health: The Basis of Current and Future Production,
will offer information on the newest topics and issues, including
infiltration, nutrient cycling, soil quality index, organic
matter and humus, and composting. Sponsored by the Illinois Soil
and Water Conservation Society in cooperation with the Illinois
Sustainable Agriculture Network, University of Illinois
Cooperative Extension Service, U.S. Department of
Agriculture/Soil Conservation Service, Christian County Soil and
Water Conservation District, Illinois Society for Professional
Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and the Illinois Soil
Classifiers, the conference will be held at the Decatur Holiday
Inn. It will run from 8:30 a.m. December 6 to 4:00 p.m. December
7, and include presentations, panel discussions and farm tour.
The conference is intended to help participants recognize
soil as a living resource. They will examine the challenge of
measuring soil health and look at practical opportunities for
improving soil health.
Researchers and farmers will present breakout sessions.
They will also lead a panel discussion and lectures about topics
such as nitrogen management, economics and earthworms.
The conference will conclude with a demonstration and
discussion of the soil health test kit on Wednesday afternoon.
Jack Erisman, Pana, Illinois, will provide a farmer perspective.
The first meeting of the Illinois Soil Project will follow. A
facilitator will lead the discussion among farmers, scientists,
and others representing public and private interests. The goal
is to address the societal, farmer, and technical or scientific
aspects of the soil quality question. During this discussion,
participants in the soil quality project will solicit input from
The conference will include two keynote speakers. The first
speaker, Tom Frantzen is a farmer from Iowa and past president of
the Practical Farmers of Iowa. The second speaker, Dr. Pete
Nowak, is a professor in the Department of Rural Sociology at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison and a soil and water conservation
specialist with the UW Extension Environmental Resources Center.
Dr. John Doran, USDA-ARS soil microbiologist, will discuss
the kit, which measures water infiltration, water-holding
capacity, bulk density and respiration, in a presentation during
Registration brochures will be sent out in late September.
For more information about the soil health conference, please
contact Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, ISAN, P.O. Box 410, Greenview,
IL 62642, (217)968-5512.