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Monday, February 6 • 2:40pm - 3:00pm
Symposia Session - S2: Midwestern Agroecology and the Conservation of Grassland Birds. Farming for the Soil, Farming for Birds

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AUTHORS: Loretta Jaus, Organic Valley dairy farmer, The Land Stewardship Project Board, and Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture Board; Martin Jaus, Organic Valley dairy farmer

ABSTRACT: With the success of conservation objectives relying heavily on buy-in from private land owners, impactful changes in how we view farm ownership must occur.  We explore one farm family's attempt to balance the standard production agricultural model against their enthusiasm for a more wildlife-friendly alternative food production system.  A familiarity with the basics of ecology and wildlife management led to changes in the Jaus farm's cropping and management systems.  Corn and soybean rows alongside the original depleted patch of pasture gave way to smaller diverse fields and expanded rotationally-grazed pasture--seasonal home to the 60-cow dairy herd.  Commonplace intentional separations at the lower end of the food chain, and concern about the impact farther up the chain resulted in reduced chemical applications and more deliberate attention to the concept of interdependency.  Ultimately, and unbeknownst to them, the Jauses had arrived at the threshold of a certified organic farm operation.  Building the health of the soil biology, a key principle of organic production, along with intentional conservation management ended up strengthening the farm's biota overall...a move that nicely accommodated the family's environmental, economic, social, and cultural objectives.  How did that work out specifically for the birds and other wildlife?  What could a shift of mindset for managers of agricultural enterprises mean in terms of the larger-scale landscape changes that fish and wildlife professionals are seeking?  How might such a shift be accomplished?  Let's explore these questions together as we consider farming for the soil, and farming for birds.

Monday February 6, 2017 2:40pm - 3:00pm CST
Arbor I/II