Soil health and acidity workshop offered by MSU

The Chouteau County Soil Acidity Working Group has organized a soil acidity and soil health workshop at the Fort Benton Ag Center, 1205 20th St., on Feb. 27, in cooperation with Montana State University Extension, the Chouteau County Conservation District, Big Sandy Conservation District and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service.

MSU Extension will co-host a soil acidity and soil health workshop at the Fort Benton Ag Center on Feb. 27.

Registration for the workshop will begin at 9:30 a.m., with presentations beginning at 10 a.m.

Most agricultural soils in Montana have near-neutral to alkaline conditions with surface soil at pH 6.5 to 8, according to Clain Jones, a soil fertility specialist with MSU Extension. Some areas of Montana, however, have developed acidic soil layers in the seeding zone, which consists of about the top 6 inches of soil, Jones said. Speakers at the conference will address the issues surrounding increasing soil acidity.

The morning presentations will include a producer report and presentations from the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Chouteau County Conservation District, MSU researchers and MSU Extension.

The afternoon programs will all be via teleconference and will include soil specialists from Washington State and North Dakota.

A brief Chouteau County Soil Acidity Working Group meeting will follow the workshop.

Presentations will include:

“Identifying Soil Acidity in your Fields,” Kent Squires and Bill Summers, Geraldine, producers.

“Identifying Soil Acidity Issues when Looking at Soil Tests,” Marni Thompson, NRCS resource conservationist.

Chouteau County Conservation District update, Dale Krause, ag consultant and certified crop adviser for Chouteau County Conservation District. Krause will update producers on the CCCD Cover Crop Acidity project.

“Preventing Acidification,” Clain Jones, MSU Extension soil fertility specialist.

“Soil Acidity Tolerance in Cereal Grain Varieties,” Jason Cook, MSU plant sciences and plant pathology.

“Soil Acidity and Soil Health,” Jon Stika, Dickinson, North Dakota, research and extension center agronomist, via teleconference. Stika will cover increasing soil organic matter and discuss how improving soil biology can assist with soil acidity.

“Lime Materials and Application,” Dave Huggins, USDA Agricultural Research Service in Washington state, via teleconference. Huggins will discuss options for choosing lime materials, as well as considerations such as particle size and percent calcium carbonate. The differences between pH and buffer pH will also be addressed.

“Managing Soil Acidity in No-Till Systems,” Dave Franzen, Extension soil specialist at North Dakota State University, via teleconference. Franzen will discuss the importance of no-till and drawbacks to deep tillage. He will also cover why and how soil acidity develops and cover liming material success of surface lime applications in no-till studies.

Funding for the workshop is thanks to an MSU grant from USDA’s Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, the Chouteau County Extension office and the Chouteau County Conservation District. Lunch will be provided.

For more information or to register, contact Tyler Lane, MSU Extension Chouteau County, at 406-622-3751 or Register by Friday, Feb. 23, to ensure a lunch reservation.

Soil Health Workshops Across Montana in January

A series of soil health workshops aimed at helping Montana producers learn new strategies and techniques for improving soil health on their land will be held across the state January 16-19, 2018. Attendees will learn how to add biological inputs to their operations to increase yield, decrease chemical inputs, and improve the resilience and health of their soils. Practices such as no-till (including potato and beet rotations), intensive grazing, diverse rotations, cover crops, and more will be discussed in the context of actual working farms and ranches.

The practice of improving soil health on farms and ranches is a movement that is sweeping across the nation. These workshops will introduce soil health principles for producers both large and small who are interested in improving the soil health on their land. The workshops will also talk about practical ways to implement soil health practices effectively, and how improving soil health can ultimately increase production and bottom lines.

Workshop dates: (Click on the speaker’s name for their bio)

1/16 Three Forks The Gathering Place Brendon Rockey and Steve Kenyon
1/17 Great Falls Holiday Inn Brendon Rockey and Wendy Taheri
1/18 Billings Big Horn Resort Brendon Rockey and Steve Kenyon
1/19 Miles City Sleep Inn Steve Kenyon and Wendy Taheri
1/19 Sidney Richland County Fairgrounds Event Center Brendon Rockey and Derek Axten


These workshops are presented by Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana, NRCS, and Montana Soil & Water Conservation Society.

Those interested in attending should register in advance at Workshops are $15 online through January 8, and $20 at the door. Doors open at 8am, and workshops begin at 9am and end in the mid afternoon. Contact Ann McCauley, 406-443-5711, with questions or to inquire about sponsor and vendor opportunities.