TOPEKA, Kan. – Farming and ranching, economic viability, quality of life, conserving our natural resources and good stewardship for Kansas are all subjects for the upcoming Kansas Agroforestry Workshop May 20-21, in Topeka, Kansas.
The workshop will feature some of the most knowledgeable experts in the field of agroforestry, which endeavors to integrate trees and shrubs into agricultural systems while simultaneously maximizing conservation and economic benefits. The goal is to increase the overall value of your farming operation.
Catering to farmers, ranchers, landowners and natural resource professionals, the workshop will teach science-based design, function, and benefits of silvopasture, alley cropping, windbreaks, riparian buffers and forest farming.
Sponsored by the Kansas Farmers Union, Kansas Forest Service and a host of other partners, the workshop will also include experts from the University of Missouri’s Center for Agroforestry.
Gene Garrett, editor and co-author of “North American Agroforestry, An Integrated Science and Practice,” will provide an overview of agroforestry and lead a session on alley cropping, which places high-value tree rows of black walnut in wide spacings while wheat, corn, soybeans or hay are grown between the rows. Alley cropping potentially creates long-term high-value lumber or veneer products while providing annual income from the crops planted in the alleyways.
Foresters sometimes only see livestock as being damaging to trees. However, silvopasture practices enable ranchers to grow high-value trees while producing annual forage crops and providing grazing opportunities. Dusty Walter and Carol Williams, University of Missouri experts on the subject, will outline the steps necessary to develop silvopasture systems.
Other featured speakers include Shibu Jose, director of the Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri, and recent recipient of the Scientific Achievement Award from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). Jose will lead panel discussions alongside several other nationally recognized experts.
Rich Straight, National Agroforestry Center, will teach the mechanics and functions of windbreaks and shelterbelts, which are expected to become more prevalent in farming operations as drought continues, and reductions in irrigation increase interest in dryland farming. Research will also be shared regarding the crop yield benefits shelterbelts provide and the new Great Plains Windbreak Crop Yield Study that is based on yield monitor data from combines.
Cover crops, economics of agroforestry, forest buffers, and specialty crops such as pecans and shiitake mushrooms, are additional subjects participants can expect to learn about during the workshop.
The registration fee for the workshop is $70 per person, which includes refreshments, lunch and social on the May 20, and breakfast and lunch on May 21. Checks may be made payable to the Kansas Farmers Union and mailed to Mary Howell, 1723 Wildcat Road, Frankfort, KS 66427-8618. Howell may also be reached by phone at 785-562-8726 or e-mail at [email protected].
The Ramada Downtown Hotel is the site of the two-day indoor event. A special room rate of $74 has been arranged for the meeting. Call 785-234-5400 to make reservations, and ask for the Kansas Agroforestry Workshop block of rooms. The Ramada is located at 420 SE 6th Ave. A workshop brochure is also available online. Just click on “News and Events.”
The Agroforestry Workshop is one of several educational workshops made possible through the Kansas Farmers Union’s Amazing Grazing III grant. Other partners included in the grant are the Kansas Grazers Association, with funding from the North Central Risk Management Education Center and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Story by: Bob Atchison