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SHARE Talk: Local relationships and relevancy (3/27/2014)

From January through March 2014, ANR Extension agents Melissa Blawat (Sargent County) and Jason Goltz (Richland County) teamed up with state soil health specialist Abbey Wick to host a series of local café meetings titled “SHARE Talk” (funded by the North Dakota Corn Growers). They met twice a month, in Wyndmere and Mooreton, to exchange information with producers related to soil health. The goal was to not only help producers better understand soil health issues, such as salinity and sodicity, but to also learn from producers about management approaches they are trying and what they are seeing in their fields.  These meetings had no agenda; they were entirely led by producer questions. 

The café talks that were held in Wyndmere this winter have been very beneficial to the producers in Sargent County. I believe the meetings helped producers feel comfortable asking questions about their soils and helped to build a stronger relationship between Extension and the producers. Producers left the meeting with their questioSHARE Talk Cafens answered and also gained a better understanding of soil health and why it’s important to their operations. These meetings have helped me gain a better understanding of what my producers are looking for when it comes to soil health.   - Melissa Blawat, Sargent County Extension Agent

Since hosting the SHARE Talk sessions, I have noticed a greater interest in soil health in Richland County. More people are asking questions about cover cropping, crop rotations and alternative crops all in the interest of improving the overall health of the soil. I have noticed the terminology change from ‘Alkali soil’ to the more correct terms of “sodic” or “saline” as well as speaking in terms of the EC measurements of their soils.   - Jason Goltz, Richland County Extension Agent

Participating in these café meetings as a state specialist, I have learned an immense amount of information from the producers and the county agents. These sessions help me keep my “finger on the pulse of agriculture” to develop timely, relevant soil health programs at the state level. I look forward to working with other Extension agents as we continue this program next winter.   - Abbey Wick, Soil Health Specialist

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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