The conference has a wide array of breakout sessions which convey vital, regionally specific agricultural information in  areas including crops, livestock, agricultural marketing and management, and specialty crops.

An Evening with Temple Grandin: Decoding Animal Behavior
Famous for her groundbreaking approach to decoding animal behavior, Dr. Grandin extends her expert guidance to small and mid-scale farming operations. Understanding how herd animals think, their senses, fears, instincts and memories will help you create facilities, handle, and ship animals based on what works best for the animal’s well being.  Her unique insights into handling livestock may even help you understand your pet’s behavior on a new level and inspire those dealing with autism. Click here for more details.

Strategies for Success: Restorative Livestock, Land, and People Management
Restorative ranching and the grass-finished beef business currently face many challenges, from climate extremes to the influx of imported grass-fed beef.  George Whitten and Julie Sullivan explore “How do you stay hopeful, creative and true to your values in the face of challenges you can’t control?” Re-questioning your business choices, land practices, personal preferences, and learning from the younger generation that is learning from you, are practices to embrace as we look for solutions.

Applying Holistic Management Decision Making in Diverse Environments
Kirk Gadzia, Resource Management Services, will introduce attendees to the principles and practices of Holistic Management.  The presentation will include the process for considering human, financial and ecological aspects in the decisions made to manage farm and ranching operations.  Examples of  how the process has been successfully applied in innovative and successful operations in a wide a wide variety of environments will be explored.  Plenty of time will be included for interaction with attendees, so bring your questions.

Season Extension from the Ground Up
Join Kyle Clark of Natural Flourish Farm for a comparative look at the various structures available, their key benefits, costs, and needed environmental controls. This session will help you determine which structures are best for your farm as well as an overview of how to meet municipal zoning and permit requirements.

No Till, High Compost Farming in Western Colorado Soils
Join Daniel and Hana Fullmer of Tierra Vida Farm for insights into managing a low till, high compost farm in the challenging soils of Western Colorado. Daniel will share his expertise and passion for integrating systems and scale appropriate tools. Daniel and Hana produce quality vegetables at high density, using sustainable and efficient operation techniques, on their 2.5 acre farm on leased land.

The Benefits of Soil Moisture Monitoring
Join John Miller for an overview of how and why moisture monitoring systems can benefit your operations. There will be specific focus on the different types of systems that exist, what crops and soils are best suited for these systems, their installation and maintenance, interpretation of the data that they provide and the benefits these systems have for the crop and producer.

Cover Crop Selection to Meet Goals and Build Soil Health
Will my ground be in better shape and more productive following my cover crop planting? Patrick O’Neill will dig deep into relating specific info regarding species and cultivars for use in cover crop blends. Goal based cover crop design and its impact on soil health cash crop quality and productivity will be emphasized.

Please Bug Me!
Join entomologist Dr. Meredith Shrader for a review of the latest biological control methods of common vegetable crop pests and noxious weed biocontrols.  Integrated pest management strategies will be reviewed including ways to attract good bugs, how to identify pests and  timing what bugs to release for maximum benefit will be covered.

Strategies for Success: Farm Worker to Ag Entrepreneur
This session will review key steps needed to begin a successful agricultural operation. The panel includes Santiago and Leticia Barajas who have successfully made the transition from farmworker to ag entrepreneur, along with Martin Valdez who’s presently involved in setting up an agricultural operation. They will share the steps they’ve taken to reach their goals. This presentation will offer English and Spanish translations as needed.

Strategies for Success: Farm Worker to Ag Entrepreneur Part 2
The second session will inform individuals interested in starting ag farming operations, including value-added ag enterprises, how to access resources available through the various government and area agency programs. This is a panel presentation with representatives from the US Department of Agriculture, Region 10 Center, Grand Junction Business Incubation Center, Colorado State University Extension, and the Colorado Workforce Center.

Strategies for Success: Sustainability, Family, Harmony
Join Dan James of the James Ranch near Durango to learn how sustainability, family and harmony have become the cornerstones of their multi-generational and multi-product line operation. Learn how Holistic Management and a commitment to strategic planning through structured family meetings and goal setting have created opportunities for diverse family member operations to thrive such as grass finished beef,  raw milk–artisanal cheese, pastured egg production, a tree farm, organic vegetable production, and a thriving market and grill operation.

Strategies for Success: Managing Your Margins  
Join 5th generation fruit grower Bruce Talbott to learn how staying ahead of market competition has been one of their keys to long term success. Bruce will share the business strategies that have enabled them to survive and thrive through many challenges, how they sustain long term relationships with land holders, growers and customers, and their plans for sustainability and succession.

Strategies for Successful Farm Risk Management
With agricultural commodity prices and markets reaching record lows, it is important as a producer to prepare for the upcoming, uncertain times facing the ag industry. Join Jenny Beiermann of CSU Extension to discuss Whole Farm Risk Management strategies and learn how to develop risk management strategies for your operation.

Strategies for Establishing & Maintaining Successful Working Relationships
Managing farm workers from diverse cultural backgrounds and levels of experience is challenging, yet critical for a successful farm or ranch operation. Join Dr. Roman-Muñiz for a fresh look at proven practical ways to improve work efficiency by managing personnel for safety, addressing cultural and experiential differences, emphasizing the connection between human and animal health and wellbeing, and establishing effective communication practices on the work place.

Adding Value with Certifications
Martha Sullins with CSU Extension will provide an overview of the array of production and handling certifications available for crop and livestock producers, and the market advantages they might offer. Learn about the costs associated with each program and hear about grower experiences in managing and marketing their products under these programs.

Re-Boot for Rogers Mesa Research Center –  Shaping Research to Meet New Demands
The Rogers Mesa Research Center, west of Hotchkiss, was recently re-opened and is in the process of updating facilities and developing programming that will address the needs of growers regionally and beyond. The focus of work is to be in organic systems that will benefit organic and conventional growers alike as we look towards modernization of fruit and vegetable production, irrigation efficiency, climate change adaptation, and developing a deeper understanding of soil/crop/atmosphere relationships. This presentation will outline the proposed direction of the “re-booted” station and introduce you to the new station manager and research scientist Frank Stonaker.

Aged and Small Batch Cheese Making
Join expert artisanal cheese maker, Dan James for a romp through their production and management systems that creates healthy and exceptional aged cheeses and happy cows.  Find out how managed grazing eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides and promotes building topsoil, carbon sequestration, clean water and balanced ecosystems while producing carefully crafted aged cheese. Whether you have a family milk cow or are considering making cheese for sale, Dan’s presentation will hit on topics that apply to all dairy and cheese making levels.

The Buzz on Bees and Native Pollinators
Join John Sheridan, of Bees In The Trees and tap into over 20 years of experience managing beehives, both in the valley and on the front range of Colorado to support an ever-growing honey and pollination business. Local challenges and opportunities will be reviewed as well as an overview of native pollinators by Forest Frost, of the Uncompahgre Valley Bee Keepers Group.

Hemp, a Regional Update and Lessons Learned 
Join Deana Sheriff, Economic Recovery Coordinator for West End Economic Development Corporation and several hemp experts for an update on regional growing, processing, and marketing opportunities. Lessons learned and profit margins from the past few years of this rapidly unfolding sector will be reviewed along with progress on regulatory issues and resources.  Joining the panel: Margaret Richardson from the Salt Creek Hemp Company, Hunter Buffington, Executive Director for the Colorado Hemp Industries Association, Caren Kershner, educator and hemp farmer, Duane Sinning the Director of the Industrial Hemp Program at the CDA, and Dustin Jensen of Speedy Extraction, a CBD oil processor.

Please be advised that topics and speakers are subject to change.