FARGO, N.D. – The first annual Dakota Innovation Research & Technology (DIRT) Workshop will be held at the Fargo Delta by Marriott on Dec. 9-11. This workshop is designed to bring the latest science-based and practical information to farmers, educators, researchers and anyone else who is interested in soil health.

This workshop will focus on innovative practices in soil health, research guiding management recommendations and technology available to support on-farm applications. Soil health experts will be brought together to share information using breakout sessions paired with demonstrations, discussion groups and panels. In addition, there will be plenty of time for building relationships between sessions.

Modeled after the NDSU Café Talk program, the program encourages discussion to custom tailor information and applications to specific farms, businesses or programs, according to Abbey Wick, NDSU Extension soil health specialist and organizer of the DIRT Workshop.

The “café talks” that Wick has held around the state provided ideas for the DIRT Workshop.

“This is something I have gotten so much farmer feedback on and it’s really geared for what they want. I think everyone is going to get a lot out of it,” she said.

“With previous meetings we focused so much on row crops, but a lot of farmers in North Dakota are solid seeded, so they needed something that wasn’t just on row crops. That is one of the things we will be doing at this meeting,” Wick added.

A change in the program format will now have the demonstrations as part of the breakout session, which will be followed up by an informational presentation. This should be more effective for those attending the workshop, Wick noted.

“Farmers have also requested more panels as part of the meeting, so at any given time slot a farmer will be able to go to a traditional breakout session, a demonstration or a panel – and there will also be different levels of information,” Wick said. “If someone is a little more advanced, they can attend the more advanced sessions. If someone is just getting started, they can catch an introductory session. I think people will be pretty excited about the new format.”

Following is the workshop schedule:

Dec. 9

The opening day session runs from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., and will feature “Farmer Show and Tell.” This session will be hosted by Tim Hammerich from the Future of Agriculture Podcast. This will be an opportunity to talk about something you’ve tried, get feedback on something that almost worked or an approach that didn’t work where you learned a valuable lesson. This will be a creative brainstorming time that is designed to get ideas flowing and conversations going over the two-day workshop.

Dec. 10

7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m., Registration

8:40 a.m.-9:30 a.m., Keynote Address with Dr. Lee Briese, independent crop consultant with Centrol Ag

9:45 a.m.-12 noon, Breakout, Demonstration and Panel Sessions (Sessions specific to livestock start at 11:00 a.m., and go through the evening.)

12:00 noon-1:00 p.m., Lunch and visit with exhibitors

1:15 p.m.-2:00 p.m., Breakout Sessions

2:15 p.m.-4:05 p.m., “Café Talk” discussion groups

4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Breakout and Panel Sessions

5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., Socialize and visit with exhibitors

Dec. 11

7:15 a.m.-8:00 a.m., Coffee and breakfast sandwiches

8:00 a.m.-10:15 a.m., Breakout, Demonstration and Panel Sessions

10:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m., “Café Talk” discussion groups

12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m., Lunch

1:45 p.m.-2:30 p.m., Breakout and Demonstration Sessions

2:45 p.m.-3:30 p.m., Closing Keynote Address with Briese

Keynote speaker Dr. Lee Briese is a trusted advisor on over a million acres of cropland. His experience has given him a good idea of how to pull pieces of information together so that it can be applied on-farm and he will share some of those ideas during his two keynote address sessions. He says it best, “There is no one size fits all for anybody.”

For ranchers, there is a session (including breakouts and also discussion groups) specifically for them from 11:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m., on Dece. 10.

“We wanted to make it convenient for those with livestock to join us and get the latest information on grazing cover crops, forage quality, manure/compost applications and much more,” Wick said.

Six different topics will be highlighted at the DIRT Workshop – cover crops; soil health systems and reduced tillage; grazing and livestock; intercropping; precision agriculture and fertility; and salt-affected soil management. Approximately 40 different presenters will be taking part in the workshop.

Wick is planning on 350 attending this meeting, but said arrangements for a larger number can be made if the registrations exceed that number.

Those planning to attend can register for the workshop by going to the website: DIRTworkshopND.com. Early bird registration is $140 person, with the cost increasing to $180 for registrations made after Dec. 1. A link to reserve a room at the Fargo Delta by Marriott can also be found at that web site.

Wick also encourages those planning on attending the workshop to check the website for more detailed descriptions on the various sessions being offered and information on those presenting the various sessions.

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