Sample Conference Schedule: Focus on Soil

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Are you passionate about compost? Do you eagerly wait for soil test season? If you’re a soil lover, check out this sample conference schedule focused on microbes, nematodes, and all things soil!

Optional Workshop:

Microbes Under Your Fingernails | Gwynee Mhuireach

Accumulating research has improved our understanding of soil microbial life and how it affects the growth, health, and survival of agricultural/horticultural crops. However, we still know very little about how exposure to soil microbes might affect the health of farmers and gardeners who spend a great deal of time in direct contact with soil. In this 75-minute class, Dr. Mhuireach will introduce the body of research investigating human exposure to environmental microbes, including those associated with soil and plants, and their potential health effects. You will also explore microbial sampling methods and citizen science projects that co-create new scientific knowledge through collaborations between stakeholders and researchers. Participants will receive: 1) training on how to collect microbial samples from soil and plant parts; 2) a sampling kit to take home for use in their own garden; 3) basic understanding of visualization methods and emerging concepts regarding human-plant-microbe interactions. Max 30; Cost $15

Concurrent Session 1:

Site Analysis and Design for a Waterwise Landscape | Lisa Sanderson

Evaluating landscapes prior to planting can lead to long-term success of correctly placed plant selections. In this session we will cover performing a proper site analysis from pH and soil to water, topography, identifying location of utilities, climates and microclimates, sun and shade and more. We’ll discuss landscape measurement as well as cover less conventional methods of landscape measurement so you will be able to consider proper scale when designing. We’ll also review principles leading to a waterwise landscape design and cover design tips.

Concurrent Session 2:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Nematodes in the Garden | Jon Eisenback

Four out of five animals are nematodes, yet the majority of people are unaware of what they are and what they do. Nematodes are called the hidden enemy of agricultural production because they are unseen, yet they are also called the Holy Ghost nematode , not only because they are unseen, but also they are everywhere. Some nematodes are good. They kill insects and help recycle nutrients in the soil. But other nematodes are bad because they extract an annual tax from most plants that are used for food, fiber, and improving the human condition. Nematodes also cause diseases of animals and humans. They kill sometimes, but most often they weaken individuals and make them vulnerable to other organisms. Nematodes are microscopic, unsegmented, microscopic worms that are sometimes called eelworms, roundworms, or nemas. Unfortunately nematodes are difficult to control, but the first step is to know that nematodes may be affecting plant growth and the to find out how many and what kinds are present in the soil and sometimes in the leaves.

Concurrent Session 3:

Plant Roots and Fungal Partners  | Dr. Paulette W. Royt

Mycorrhiza is the symbiotic relationship between some soil fungi and plant roots. This session will cover this relationship, as well as as the diversity of the mycorrhizal fungi and the role the mycorrhizal fungi play in soil structure, plant nutrition, ecosystem diversity, and everyday gardening.

Concurrent Session 4:

From Dirt to Gold | Leonard Githinji

Most successful gardeners understand that maintaining a good-quality, healthy soil is absolutely necessary for crop production. For this session, we will have an in-depth discussion of the best strategies to build a healthy soil that is both productive and sustainable in the long run for your garden. The session will include a hands-on exercise on some soil management practices for assessing the health of your soil.

Concurrent Session 5:

Honey Bees: The Canary in the Coal Mine | Betty Robison

Raising honey bees has taught us to look to them for answers for what is happening in our environment. Habitat loss, inappropriate pesticide use, and climate changes have brought about severe consequences to the honey bee population and pollinators at large. Extension Master Gardeners have an opportunity to educate and change the perspectives within communities resulting in improved landscapes. This educational session will provide a look through the eyes of a honey bee, and how our efforts in planting, simple solutions for managing pests and diseases, and growing the plants with the highest nutritional values, can make a tremendous impact on the health and well-being of our pollinators.

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