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Learn in the Field

Morning coffee, lunch will be served on-site both days and dinner will also be served on the first day. Parking will be available. Water and restrooms will be available, but we encourage you to bring extra water and snacks. Please dress appropriately for the weather, wear closed-toed shoes, and bring a hat and sun block.


The 2023 On-Farm Intensive will take place August 15-16 in Lone Rock, Wisconsin. Schedule is subject to change.

DAY ONE: Tuesday, August 15, 2023

8:00 A.M.
8:15 A.M.
9:00 A.M.
Presentation: 6 Rules of Biological Farming
Speaker: Leilani Zimmer-Durand

This session will cover all there is to know about biological farming. Attendees will learn the six principles of biological farming practices that will help you on a path toward rebuilding your soils, including:

  • Building soil biology
  • Managing carbon in your soils
  • Balancing soil minerals
  • The role of key minerals in building soil health
  • Finding the best tillage practices to build loose, crumbly soils
  • The role of plant diversity for soil health
  • How to add diversity to your farm
9:45 - 10:00 A.M.
10:00 A.M.
Field Learning: Introduction to the Farm System
Speaker: Gary Zimmer and Leilani Zimmer-Durand

In the first field learning session, attendees will take a field walk and look at this year’s organic corn and cover crops growing near the Learning Center and talk about the crop rotation, fertility program, and this year’s farming challenges and successes.

12:30 P.M. – 1:30 P.M.
1:30 P.M.
Presentation: Physical & Biological Soil Management and Testing
Speaker: Gary Zimmer

Soil biology and fertility are foundational principles of biological farming. This session will dig a little deeper into what they mean.

Gary will address:

  • What are the roles of key microbes on your farm, and what can you do to promote beneficial soil life?
  • Why is soil fertility using balanced minerals so important?
  • What management practices Gary follows each year to keep his soils healthy and resilient
  • What changes have occurred on Gary’s farming by building soil biology and fertility
2:30 – 2:45 P.M.
2:45 P.M.
Field Learning: Learning From Your Soils in the Field
Speaker: Gary Zimmer & Leilani Zimmer-Durand

Gary will share soil reports from the Twin Creeks farm and we’ll head out to the field to dig in the soil at several key spots on the farm that have different soil types and have responded different to the farm’s soil building and fertility program.  Gary will answer your questions about soil management, building soil carbon and soil health, and the role of soil health in crop yields and resiliency.

3:45 P.M.
Presentation: Physical & Biological Soil Management and Testing
Speaker: Gary Zimmer & Leilani Zimmer-Durand

Managing soil health means managing the physical, chemical and biological aspects of soil. In this session, Gary and Leilani will discuss building and maintaining good soil structure to create a rich, chocolate-cake texture that will provide a diverse home for many different types of soil life.  They will also talk about the importance of soil carbon as a source of food for soil biology and as the key element that helps balance overall soil health.

4:45 P.M.
Presentation: Integrating Cover Crops
Speakers: Gary Zimmer & Karl Dallefeld

This session will cover:

  • The role of different types of cover crops
  • The practical aspects of managing cover crops in your crop rotation
  • Dig in the soil to look at some of the improvements on this farm’s soils from adding a diversity of cover crops
5:30 P.M.
Happy Hour and Questions

While dinner is being prepared, enjoy open conversation with fellow attendees over drinks.

6:15 P.M.

DAY TWO: Wednesday, August 16, 2023

8:00 A.M.
8:15 A.M.
8:30 A.M.
8:45 A.M.
Field Learning: Transitioning Your Farm to Regenerative
Speakers: Gary Zimmer & Leilani Zimmer-Durand & Patrick Michaels

We’ll take a trip to the nearby Savanna Institute Valley Farm to learn about how that farm is being transitioned from conventional, high-input agriculture to a diverse system that includes perennial crops.  Building soil health and integrating plant diversity are key elements of building overall farm health. Gary and Patrick will tell you more about what’s been happening on this farm and how transitioning to regenerative farming practices is improving this farm.

9:45 A.M.
10:00 A.M.
Presentation: Integrating Agroforestry/Perennial Crops Into Your System
Speakers: Patrick Michaels & Erik Hagan - with The Savanna Institute

Learn more about the work being done by Savanna Institute across their network of farms and how you could institute this system on your own farm.  Patrick and Eric, the Savannah Institute Farm Manager, will tell you about different approaches to adding perennial crops to a farm and how perennial crops can be integrated into many different types of farm management systems. Learn more about the perennial cropping movement and why more farmers are adding perennial crops to their farms and what benefits they bring.

11:00 – 11:10 A.M.
11:10 A.M.
Field Learning: Planting Trees/Elderberries/Blueberries, Permanent Ag
Speakers: Patrick Michaels

For this field learning session, attendees will take a walk out to the fields to look at some of the perennial crops Gary has added to his farm over the last couple of years and learn more about when, where and why he planted them, and how they fit into his overall farm management and soil health plan.

12:15 P.M.
1:15 P.M.
Breakout Sessions: Looking at Your Own Soil Tests/Farm Info
Speakers: Gary Zimmer, Leilani Zimmer-Durand, Patrick Michaels, Karl Dallefeld

Attendees will divide into small groups – each led by either Gary, Leilani, Patrick or a Savanna Institute representative – to go over the results of their own soil tests or information specific to their own farms.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own soil test for this session, though it is not required.

Here is a list of soil testing labs that Gary and Leilani recommend: 

2:30 – 2:45 P.M.
2:45 P.M.
Presentation: How to Start the Transition to Regenerate the Land
Speakers: Gary Zimmer, Leilani Zimmer-Durand & Patrick Michaels

Adopting new farming practices can be intimidating and, in this session, you will hear more about how to start the transition to regenerate your land using either biological farming methods, adding perennial crops, transitioning to organic, or all of the above!

3:15 P.M.
Presentation: Economics of Running Your Farming System / Radical Approach for Everyone!
Speakers: Gary Zimmer & Leilani Zimmer-Durand

Gary and Leilani will share the lastest economics from Otter Creek Organic Farm’s rye/cover crop/corn rotation.  They will share their cost and return analysis from the farm, and answer your questions about why this radical approach has been so successful and also offers opportunity for other farmers.

4:00 P.M.
4:30 P.M.


The 2023 speakers are in the process of being finalized. Sign up for the Acres U.S.A. email newsletter to get the latest updates on all things On-Farm, plus other Acres U.S.A. events. Sign up here!