Earlier this week we were out walking the fields of Gary Zimmer’s Otter Creek Organic Farm in Lone Rock, Wisconsin, during the 2022 On-Farm Intensive with Zimmer Ag. The two-day intensive, held Aug. 22-23, focused on lessons in soil health, including soil biology and fertility, plus carbon-smart farming, cover cropping, farm economics, perennial crops, equipment, and soil testing.
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The Farm and The Barn
The On-Farm Intensive took place on several different farms owned by Gary – including the Otter Creek Organic Farm and the Twin Creeks Farm. The barn on Twin Creeks, where the indoor workshop sessions were held, was recently renovated into an incredible event space – and On-Farm was the first event to be held there!
Day 1 – Intro to Biological Farming
Both days were info-packed, and Day 1 started out strong! Gary Zimmer provided lessons both in and off the field around soil biology and the principles of biological farming, while Karl Dallefeld of Prairie Creek Seed discussed cover crops, and Leilani Zimmer Durand addressed carbon-smart farming tactics and updates.
Day 1 – Lunch & Learning
Leilani Zimmer-Durand gave a talk addressing soil carbon and the role it plays including:
the different types of carbon on a farm and their different roles in soil health, nutrient cycling and organic matter production
an overview of the carbon-trading marketplace
what’s coming with the Climate-Smart Commodities grant and how that will impact farmers’ abilities to make some of the sustainable practices they’ve already been following more profitable
how the current crop rotation system at Otter Creek builds more soil carbon than a traditional organic farming rotation, and why that makes a difference for yields and quality
Day 1 – Perennial Crops in the Field
After hearing a presentation on agroforestry from Patrick Michaels – CFO of Canopy Farm Management and manager of Twin Creeks Farm – attendees walked out to the fields to look at some of the perennial crops. Attendees learned about when, where and why they were planted, and how they fit into an overall farm management and soil health plan.
In the Field – Soil Biology & Fertility
After studying the perennial crops in the elderberry and blueberry fields, the attendees followed Gary, Leilani and Patrick back to the rye field, where they dug in the dirt and discussed soil biology and fertility.
Acres U.S.A. is North America’s oldest publisher on production-scale organic and sustainable farming. For more than 50 years, our mission has been to help farmers, ranchers and market gardeners grow food profitably, regeneratively, and without harmful chemicals.