The production philosophy believes farm practices should build the environment and soil health rather than just maintain them, and will once again be the topic this fall when the MFGA launches its second regenerative agriculture forum. The event will take place during the evening of Nov. 19 and throughout the day Nov. 20 alongside the MFGA’s annual meeting.
Last year, the event drew about 275 people.
The MFGA will cut that back to 100 tickets this year, as the main forum has been moved from Brandon’s Victoria Inn to the city’s Manitoba Agriculture Ag extension building. MFGA executive director Duncan Morrison says they plan to hold a major conference every second year from now on, with smaller events in the alternating years.
“We’re not a very big group and we talked about how could we replicate this year after year after year and the decision was made by the board,” he said.
The board believes spreading out main conferences would avoid distracting from other large regenerative agriculture events, make it easier to consistently find quality speakers and would avoid fatiguing sponsors.
At the podium
Jay Fuhrer, a soil-health specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service of North Dakota, will speak this year along with no-till expert Dwayne Beck of the Dakota Lakes Research Farm in South Dakota. Beck, in particular, has become known for his work in no-till and rotations on both naturally watered and irrigated land.
Edward Bork, director of the Rangeland Research Institute at the University of Alberta, will connect via webcast.
Attendees will also hear from the Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives, an applied research farm north of Brandon. General manager Mary-Jane Orr has been confirmed as the lunchtime keynote speaker.
“That’s four very strong pasture-grassland experts that are also going to be talking in language that appeals to all kinds of producers, whether it’s beef or grain producers,” Morrison said.
Those speakers will come on the heels of more local flavour. The forage association has arranged a series of evening panels Nov. 19, to be held at Brandon’s Victoria Inn. The panels will tap producers such as Brooks White — a bison producer, cover crops and intercrops advocate and winner of last year’s Manitoba Outstanding Young Farmer award — and Ryan Brooks, a well-known name in pasture management, cropping systems innovation, livestock and grain integration, and a current Nuffield scholar looking into the environmental and productive impact of sustainably grazing ruminants.
Soil carbon and sequestration will star in another panel — including nods to a Canadian Forage and Grassland Association research project ongoing on six Manitoba fields — while a third will tackle current research, opportunities and gaps of the regenerative agriculture movement.
Producers may get their chance to meet the event’s main speakers, even without attending.
Michael Thiele, Ducks Unlimited grazing club co-ordinator, says he hopes to set up additional events during the time speakers are in the region.
“I know they’re not that far away — North Dakota, South Dakota — but still, it takes a day to drive, so to come here to do a one-hour presentation just seems wasteful, so I’m going to try and take advantage of them, do a grazing club event as well,” he said. “We’re still thinking about the idea of a regenerative week, not just a regenerative conference and I like that idea a lot.”
Last year, several speakers led workshops and seminars in the Brandon region on top of their conference presentations.
Ducks Unlimited and General Mills have emerged as two major sponsors of this year’s event. The two groups are already working with 25 Manitoba farms through their UnderstandingAg.com project. The project promises direct contact with farms, consultation and active on-farm projects to improve environmental management.
The conference’s early bird tickets are set at $150 until Oct. 1 and can be found through the MFGA website. Tickets after Oct. 1 are set at $200.