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As the new year begins it represents an opportunity to reinvigorate yourself and look into learning about what is ahead.

Certainly health restrictions have prevented many in-person events. The list is too lengthy to even consider but it does not limit an opportunity to learn.

An example is High Plains Journal’s upcoming Soil Health U and Trade Show that will be presented for the first time in a virtual format from 7:45 a.m. to noon, Jan. 21. The event features Jimmy Emmons, Kris Nichols and Rick Clark, who are highlighted in this week’s cover story by Amy Bickel.

All of them talk about the need for producers to stay updated. Among the most important tools a producer needs is a shovel so that he or she can understand what is going on below the surface.

Jimmy Emmons does not leave home without his shovel, as he told Bickel. “I’m constantly looking to see where my soil is at,” the Leedey, Oklahoma, farmer said. That includes counting the numerous earthworms in his rich, carbon-filled soil.

Emmons, a third-generation farmer and rancher, is well known as a regional coordinator for the Southern Plains Region-Farm Production and Conservation within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The journey for soil health is a marathon and not a sprint. Nichols, a soil microbiologist and founder and principal scientist of KRIS Systems Education Consultation, impresses upon people the importance of regenerative agriculture as a way to restore the soil’s health and that includes the living roots below the surface.

Indiana farmer Rick Clark said it took a weather event for him to watch rainwater roll through the ditches instead of slowly filtering into the ground. He prefers to focus on quality instead of strictly yields.

Information is available at www.soilhealthu.net.

There is never a “one-size-fits-all” plan as any producer knows. The key is to take advantage of learning opportunities to see if there is a nugget of information that can lead a farmer and rancher to ask, “Is there a way for me to integrate this concept into my operation?” The key is also to ask what it takes to measure success and other variables.

Since their inception at HPJ, a successful component of U events has been to incorporate as many producer panels as possible so that producers can get insight from those who also have to make day-to-day decisions.

All those are made available in seminars that can help a producer to be better in what he can do over the next year. At HPJ, readers often ask what can help them in their year-ahead plans and we encourage them to attend conferences. Nearly all educational events, regardless if they are conducted by private entities or public institution, are going to be conducted on a virtual basis.

One aspect we have learned is that there are alternative ways to “attend” and even a telephone can provide a conduit to gathering pertinent information.

As producers look to finalize their 2021 strategy, we ask they take time to invest in learning opportunities that can hopefully boost their efficiency.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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