Feedback Wanted for 2012 Conference Sessions

The 2012 Conference Planning Committee would like your feedback on session topics and presenters. Below are the themes, presenters, and specific topics brainstormed by the committee. We must narrow this list to 3 topics per theme, and some topics need suggestions for presenters. Please comment on which sessions interest you most, and any additional suggestions for presenters. You may comment on this post or email illinoisorganicgrowers@gmail.com.

Theme 1: Soil & Fertility

  1. Joel Gruver: How to use cover crops to build soil fertility
  2. NRCS, RMA: How to benefit from government assistance for organic growers
  3. Ellen Phillips: Build fertile soil through composting: Tips for using various composting methods, including vermicomposting, manure composting, and compost tea. How to avoid compost contaminated with aminopyralid. Review of certified organic regulations on composting manure.
  4. Matt DeJong: cover crops and vegetables. See description in Vegetables & Grains section.
  5. Gary Zimmer, Midwestern Bio-Ag: Soil fertility.

Theme 2: Fruits & Berries

  1. Rick Weinzierl: Biological insect management in fruit production. Learn biological strategies for controlling insects in fruit production. Special attention will be given to scouting methods, such as tracking degree days to predict emergence.
  2. Needs a presenter. Growing small fruits organically.
  3. Jennifer Hopwood, Xerces Society, Midwest Pollinator Outreach Coordinator and/or Phil Nixon, University of Illinois entomologist. Pollinators and the Preservation of Pollination. Why pollination is important to all plant growers and the current threats to pollinators. Ways you can support threatened honeybees, and strategies for managing alternative pollinators such as bumble bees, mason bees, and leafcutter bees.

Theme 3: Vegetables & Grains

  1. Needs a presenter. Small-scale processing and marketing of grains. Looking to incorporate grains into your vegetable rotations? Find out how to develop your market and process your grains accordingly. Learn what regulations apply and how to make your enterprise profitable.
  2. Needs a presenter. How to combine vegetable and grain production. For large-scale grain producers, how to grow and market vegetables. For vegetable growers, how to grow and market grains.
  3. Dave Shiley: Organic predator management in horticulture. How to keep deer, rabbits, racoons, geese, and other predators from harvesting your crop before you do.
  4. Rick Weinzierl: Biological insect management in vegetable production. Learn biological strategies for controlling insects in vegetable production. Special attention will be given to scouting methods, such as tracking degree days to predict emergence.
  5. Chad Wallace: Winter harvest: strategies for growing and storing vegetables for year-round sales. Strategies covered will include growing greens throughout the winter, late fall harvests, and economical ways to store root and other vegetables to ongoing winter sales. Winter market opportunities and how to make winter sales profitable will also be discussed.
  6. Panel discussion with Gary McDonald, Joel Gruver, Mike Roegge, and/or Sarah Carlson: Organic grain production. Current trends, issues, and best practices in large-scale organic grain production.
  7. Matt DeJong: Using cover crops to increase yields and build soil fertility. Specific examples of using cover crops in large-scale vegetable production. How to select cover crops to fit into time windows on double-cropped fields. Process and equipment needed for direct seeding spinach into tillage radish for extended season planting.
  8. Needs a presenter. Small-scale equipment for vegetables and grains.

Theme 4: Livestock

  1. Needs a presenter. Organic pasture management. Includes information on how to use animals to build soil fertility for fruit, vegetable, and grain production. Financial considerations and profitability will also be discussed.
  2. Needs a presenter. Rotational grazing / active pasture management / pastured production. How to raise grass-fed beef, chickens, and hogs. Focus on issues common to all pastured animals: selection and management of moveable structures, how to develop markets and ensure profitability, how to choose supplemental rations when needed, including soy-free options.
  3. Dave Shiley: Organic predator management in livestock: How to keep hawks, coyotes, foxes and other predators from dining on your flocks and herds.
  4. Needs a presenter. Organic treatment of diseases in livestock.

Organic plenary session

In this session, which will cut across both organic track time slots, the committee hopes to have an outstanding speaker who energizes participants and brings cohesiveness and excitement. The speaker could talk about the revival of rural areas via small farmers, as opposed to the usual talk of how rural areas are suffering. We hope to Inspire organic growers in our fight for our place in agriculture.

Dr. John Ikerd was the top suggestion. Other suggestions included Marie Rodale, Wes Jackson, or Joel or Daniel Salatin.

Spray drift

Two committee members are planning a comprehensive session on spray drift that will cut across both organic track time slots. If you have suggestions, please email illinoisorganicgrowers@gmail.com.