Soil microbiologist Kris Nichols is coming to the TRU Campus in Williams Lake on May 24 to discuss soil, farming and other related topics at a seminar. Black Press File Photo.

RANCH MUSINGS: Soil Biological tools to build resilience and food security

Sometimes we get world-class speakers to present to the students at Thompson Rivers University

Sometimes we get world-class speakers to present to the students in the Applied Sustainable Ranching at the Thompson Rivers University campus in Williams Lake.

May 24 is one of those days. Kris Nichols, soil microbiologist, will be one of the guest speakers at a seminar May 24 from 1-4 pm TRU Campus Williams lake, Room 1251.

You should reserve a seat as space is limited. Dr Nichols is sponsored in part, by DWB Consulting Services a local forestry consulting company.

Thanks go to them and to the BC Cattlemen’s Association to whom she will speak on Saturday. However, you need to be a member and/or registered for that meeting.

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I have said this before: we are lucky when our organizations arrange to bring world-class speakers here. It would cost individuals hundreds if not thousands of dollars to travel to attend a seminar or meeting where Kris Nichols was speaking.

I am quoting here from the bulletin announcing the FREE seminar: ”During the presentation, we will discuss innovations through the integration of crop and animal production which impacts soil carbon accrual and soil structure for optimal water and nutrient management to increase profitability by maximizing nutrient and water use efficiencies.”

Kris is an inspiring researcher and teacher about healthy soils and human health. I am personally looking forward to hearing her.

It will be well worth the travel time from Quesnel, 100 Mile or Anahim Lake. Remember the cost to travel even further to hear someone like this speak.

Some of us are interested in having her come back for some serious time teaching farmers ranchers, and gardeners about promoting soil health.

I guarantee it will be worth your time off work to get initiated into this realm of regenerative agriculture.

“Regenerative agriculture” is defined as farming practices which build soil and restore fertility as a consequence of crop and /or livestock production.

The practices have three components: minimal soil disturbance, integration of cover crops (including legumes) and diverse rotations.

How this applies to the renovation of perennial stands of grasses and forages is very much a work in progress, since encouraging new plants to grow in an established sod requires knocking back the existing crops in order to allow new growth to emerge.

Traditionally much of the “ no-till” movement has utilized herbicides which kill the existing crops.

However, a reduction and elimination of herbicides which kill much of soil fauna are one of the objectives of the regenerative agriculture movement.

Read More: RANCH MUSINGS: Spring is crazy busy for ranchers and farmers

What is converting many conventional farmers and ranchers to this production strategy is the desire to build soils ability to fix free nutrients from the air and ground making it unnecessary or reducing the number of purchased inputs.

Treated right, soil can grow itself. Typically, our soils here are young and shallow. The last ice age was only a few thousand years ago.

Putting more carbon into the soil, through encouraging rather than using up soil organic matter, is the way forward to reducing costs and improving production.

Hearing Dr. Nichols on May 24th might just convince you to try innovative measures in your forage and crop production.

To book a spot call Gillian Watt at 250-319 2367 or email

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.

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