Midwest Soil Health Summit

Registration is now open for the 2018 SFA Midwest Soil Health Summit:

Feb. 14-15 at Bigwood Event Center in Fergus Falls

The 2018 MSHS features a years-in-the-making soil data release, the always popular discussion tables, a special “Chat With Kris @ MSHS” limited-ticket event with Dr. Kris Nichols, a full trade show, an evening cocktail reception and Q&A with Drs. Nichols and Allen Williams on “The Social Implications of Soil Health,” and much more.

Preregister online or at the door beginning at noon Feb. 14. Conference begins at 1 p.m. and runs through evening reception. Hours are 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Feb. 15.

Speakers include:

  • Dr. Kris Nichols, nationally renowned soil health scientist
  • Dr. Allen Williams, grazing and soil health expert
  • Kent Solberg, SFA livestock & grazing specialist
  • Justin Morris, NRCS soil health specialist
  • David Bartok, Quorum Labs
  • Dr. Ann Marie Journey, soil health coordinator (ACES)
  • Doug Landblom, NDSU researcher
  • Cody Nelson, Prairie Creek Seed
  • Don Reicosky, retired USDA soil scientist
  • Dr. Sharon Weyers, USDA soil scientist
  • Jim Wulf, farmer

Additionally, SFA and the Pasture Project will release years-in-the-making CIG research data that looks at the cost and benefit of adding cover crops and livestock and includes participating farmers in Minnesota and Iowa. A farmer panel will ensue.

The Feb. 14 evening food-and-drink reception will include a discussion with Drs. Nichols and Williams, “The Social Implications of Soil Health,” emceed by Kent Solberg.

Also returning are the popular discussion tables, loads of built-in networking time, and more. Dinner on Feb. 14 and lunch on Feb. 15 are included with registration.

Cost: $100 for SFA members; $150 for nonmembers.


Click here for a mail-in registration form.


“Chat With Kris @ MSHS”

An additional session “Chat With Kris @ MSHS” and limited to 20 registrants, is set for 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Feb. 14. Attend this roundtable discussion and have ample time to ask Dr. Nichols your burning questions. Cost is $40; choose the “Chat With Kris @ MSHS” option during conference registration.


Intro to Soil Health with Kent Solberg and Allen Williams

As an additional session to complement the 2018 Midwest Soil Health Summit, SFA will host a special introductory course, “Intro to Soil Health with Kent Solberg and Allen Williams,” from 9 to 11:45 a.m. on Feb. 14 at Bigwood Event Center. This course is required for scholarship recipients but is open to all conference registrants; no additional RSVP for the intro course is necessary. Please note that this is an entry level course.


Sponsor/Exhibitor Application is NOW OPEN for 2018

Click here to download the application form.

If desired, pay your sponsor/exhibitor fees online here.

Online payers must still fill out application form and submit to jerry@sfa-mn.org for approval.

2018 Sponsors





A limited number of scholarships are available for ag professionals, agency employees, and crop consultants to attend the 2018 MSHS. Scholarship recipients will receive admission to the two-day event, one night’s hotel, and all meals during the event (approx. $400 value). Mileage will not be reimbursed.

Scholarship recipients agree to host/conduct at least one soil health-related educational event, consistent to agency/organizational mission, in 2018; SFA will help recipients through the event-hosting process through our Soil Health Network. They also may attend a special morning session on Feb. 14, “Soil Health Basics,” and must attend a Feb. 14 lunch that discusses SFA’s Soil Health Network event support.

Scholarships are limited; applicants who have not attended the MSHS before may receive preference.

To apply, click here.

About Our Speakers

Dr. Kristine Nichols examines the impacts of management such as crop rotation, tillage practices, organic production, cover crops, and livestock grazing on soil aggregation, water relationships, and glomalin. She received a Bachelor of Science in Plant Biology and in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota, a Masters in Environmental Microbiology from West Virginia University, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland. Dr. Nichols has worked as a soil microbiologist with the USDA for over 14 years, the first three in Beltsville, Md., and then at Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory (NGPRL) in Mandan, N.D. for the next 11 years. Recently she held the post of Chief Scientist at the Rodale Institute.

Dr. Allen Williams is a champion of the grass-fed beef industry as well as a leader in cutting edge grazing methodology. Dr. Williams is a sixth-generation family farmer and holds BS, MS degrees in Agriculture from Clemson University and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State. He spent 15 years in academia in research, teaching, and extension, and has written more than 300 peer-reviewed and popular press articles. In 2000, he left academia and began working with farmers and ranchers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South America. Dr. Williams currently serves as Chairman of the Association of Family Farms, Co-Chair of the Grassfed Exchange, Co-Project Leader of the Pasture Project, Facilitator in the USDA BFRDP EET program, and lead investigator in soil microbial research as a replacement for chemical fertilizers. This will be his fourth MSHS appearance; he has also helped lead many SFA grazing and soil health field days over the past few years, including our popular summer “Dirt Rich” series.

Kent Solberg

Kent Solberg, SFA Livestock & Grazing Specialist, and his wife, Linda, have a diversified pasture-based livestock farm near Verndale, Minn., where they raise dairy, pork, eggs and beef. Solberg, who is an expert on livestock fencing, cover crop selection, wintering livestock, and an array of other innovative profit-focused soil health topics, serves as Livestock and Grazing Specialist and Minnesota Dairy Initiative Coordinator through the Sustainable Farming Association. He is also an instructor for SFA’s Deep Roots Farmer Development program and co-founded the Midwest Soil Health Summit in 2014. Kent was recently featured in an instructional video series discussing fencing, livestock watering, and more produced by frequent SFA collaborator The Pasture Project.

Doug Landblom is the NDSU Dickinson Research Extension Center’s Beef Cattle Specialist, whose primary research focus is in beef cattle systems. Landblom has always sought practical methods to reduce input cost without sacrificing animal performance. Having personal experience with cattle finishing in custom yards, he saw a need to study retained ownership in a vertically integrated business plan that integrated beef cattle production into a diverse crop rotation. Farmers and ranchers didn’t want to buy into such thinking; people said, “selling calves off the cow for an awesome price was good and backgrounding cattle all winter was not to their liking.” Besides, grain prices were skyrocketing and backgrounding/finishing budgets didn’t make sense. When a new wave of research opened up to study cover crops, soil health, and beef cattle production, his research focus changed. His goal over the last six years has been to identify the complementing holistic potential to improve soil quality through an alternative integrated grazing-based production system that generates income from cash crops (spring wheat and sunflowers) and beef income from yearling steers grazing annual forages in a diverse cropping system.


Lodging is available at the Country Inn and Suites connected to Bigwood Event Center. The hotel features a restaurant and bar as well as a Minnesota-shaped pool. To make a reservation, call 218.739.2211.

Midwest Soil Health Summit Archive