"The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them."
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Saturday, March 4, 2017

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Common Ground Education Center, Unity


Registration (includes lunch):
$75 individual / $100 couples

Interested in a partial or full scholarship? Please fill out a scholarship application form.

Keynote speaker Will Brinton, Woods End Laboratories

Will Brinton

Keynote: Will Brinton, CEO/Chief Science Officer, Woods End Laboratories, Inc., Mount Vernon, Maine

Healthy Soil: A Biological-Plant Mediator and Microbial Battleground

Will Brinton started his soil testing lab because he believed organic farming required a different soil test. Conventional farming, based on mineral nutrition theory, is served by testing inorganic factors. Organic farming always professed to feed the soil in order that the soil feed the plant. What is the soil test for it?
Over time, many elements of mineral theory have moved over into organic practice. An example is the popular focus on soil mineral balancing. This talk will explore the need for a more demanding, soil biological perspective.
The new, emerging view of fertility is that soil is a vibrant, living (biological) system. This view is not new to organic practitioners. In this view, a healthy soil may be largely self-sustaining, supplying plants with what they need for nutrition and disease defense – without significant intervention. Yet, almost no soil testing services are able to say much about it.
Due to the increased popularity of "soil health" there is new interest in scientific means of depicting soil biology and soil degradation. If successful, these developments may influence and alter organic approaches. The sweeping innovation of No-Till, an outgrowth of intensive chemical farming, is putting pressure on organic practitioners to reexamine soil management methods. Is there a unifying, underlying biological view?

Some questions to be explored include are we trying to add microbes to soil by composting? Microbes like any other farm animals need to eat and will compete with other organisms to acquire and alter a niche. Adding manure and compost and using green manure crops should be seen as feeding indigenous organisms. The soil "battleground" of feeding cycles is also one it’s greatest strengths for the balance it attains acts to control and eliminating introduced disease organisms and confers long-term soil stability that reaches physical proportions.
Brinton will discuss how he developed a new biology test called Solvita as a means to introduce soil biology to mainstream soil-labs. The new approach has triggered debate on how well we understand soil fertility in general and if it is practical for farming. From the climate perspective, the talk will look at the larger plight of our soils in relation to global carbon, and what the chances are that after long-ignoring of biological components of soil the needed mediation of CO2 levels can come about by means of good farming.


9:30 a.m. - Registration

10:00 a.m. - Keynote

11:45 a.m. - Q&A with Will Brinton

12:00 p.m. - Lunch break

1:00 p.m. - Farmer Panel

3:00 p.m. - Wrap up; Q & A/ discussion

3:30 p.m. - End
Children's Programming at Spring Growth

MOFGA and Northwood Natural Learning are excited to announce a new youth program in conjunction with the annual Spring Growth Conference. While adults are learning inside, children will spend the day outside playing, exploring and learning. Programming is available for children over the age of 4. Childcare is available for younger children as well. Cost for the program is on a sliding scale of $20-$40 per child, but please do not let cost be a barrier. No one will be turned away due to cost. To register, or for more information, please contact Anna Libby
alibby@mofga.org or 568-4142.


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