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Healthy Soils, Healthy Farms

February 19, 2020 @ 8:45 am - 3:00 pm


Join MFT, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, University of Maine Presque Isle, Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District, Central Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District, and fellow farmers for a day of learning about how healthy soils practices can benefit your farm operation. Completion of this program will result in 4 Certified Crop Advisor (3 Soil & Water, 1 Crop Management) 2 Pesticide credits, and 4 Nutrient Management Credits.


$15 — Register HERE

(Walk-ins are welcome to pay at the door, too.)

DIRECTIONS: The University of Maine at Presque Isle is located at 181 Main St (Main St is also Route 1). Campus is on the west side of the street, south of Caribou and north of Westfield. You may enter at the main entrance or off of University Drive. The event will be held in the Multi-Purpose Room on the second floor of the Campus Center building. There are three parking options within reasonable walking distance to the building: the CIL Parking Lot (closest to the building), Tennis Court Parking lot, and the Upper Merriman Parking Lot. Please see PARKING MAP for further detail (see top part of map, all parking lots are yellow). Questions about getting there? Call the university (207.768.9800) or the MFT office (207.338.6575).


8:45am-9:30am: Registration and Coffee/Tea/Light Breakfast

9:30am-10:30am: Morning Plenary

Biotic Farming Fundamentals and Applications: Comprehending the carbon cycle to support a healthy farm system

Brendon Rockey will explain how past destructive farming practices and drought were catalysts for adopting his biotic farming methods. The Rockey Farms journey includes the development of a systematic approach founded on carbon cycling and water efficiency. It demonstrates how synthetic inputs and the absence of life breakdown soil resiliency and, in turn, how a biological farming system supports not only soil health, but the overall farm’s health. 

Welcome & Introduction: Ellen Griswold, Policy & Research Director, MFT. Presentation and Q&A: Brendon Rockey, Potato Farmer, Rockey Farms, Colorado

10:30am-10:45am: Break

10:45am to 11:30am: The Science and Profitability of Soil Health

An overview of potential practices that could be implemented by Maine’s farmers to improve soil health and mitigate the effects of climate change. Emphasis will be placed on discussing practices that have the greatest potential to be implemented across the state, taking into account the benefits and costs of doing so. Possible policies and pathways to achieve widespread implementation of soil health practices will also be discussed. 

Presented by Adam Daigneault, E.L. Giddings Assistant Professor of Forest, Conservation, and Recreation Policy, University of Maine

11:30am to 12:15pm: Research on Potato Farmer Perspectives

Agricultural producers are at the forefront of adapting to a changing climate.  In 2011, interviews were conducted with 15 commodity groups, including potato growers, on the future of Maine agriculture, and asked if they were implementing changes due to changing weather patterns.  In 2019, John Jemison interviewed potato farmers in Maine and Southern Colorado about their perceptions of changing weather patterns and practices they had implemented on their farms to combat climate change.  This presentation will cover the similarities and differences in growers’ responses over location and time.

Presented by John Jemison, Extension Professor of Soil and Water Quality, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

12:15pm-1:15pm: Lunch

1:15pm-2:15pm: Reduced Tillage, Rotations and Cover Crops

Farmer Matt Ramsay will share his strategies and experiences with managing soil health on a PEI potato farm through rotations, cover crops and reduced tillage. Matt operates the 4th generation Oyster Cover Farms along with his father and two brothers, and is an active member of the PEI Potato Board Soil Working Group, the Kensington North Watershed Association, and the PEI Soil and Crop Improvement Association. Rick Kersbergen, UMaine Extension, will follow with key tips from Maine corn silage growers based on their experiences over the last decade with switching to no-till and cover cropping.

Presented by Ellen Mallory,  Extension Specialist & Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Matt Ramsay, Farmer, Oyster Cove Farms, PEI; Rick Kersbergen, Extension Professor of Sustainable Dairy and Forage Systems, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

2:15pm-3:00pm: Farmer Panel

Farmers share their experiences with soil health practices, as well as the barriers to farmers using these practices.

Panel will include Brendon Rockey, Matt Ramsey, and Sean O’Donnell of Rusted Rooster Farm.


February 19, 2020
8:45 am - 3:00 pm
Event Category:


The University of Maine at Presque Isle, Campus Center Multipurpose Room
181 Main St
Presque Isle, ME 04769 United States
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(207) 768-9400
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