Nebraska Grazing Conference will be Aug. 8-9 in Kearney, Neb. |

Nebraska Grazing Conference will be Aug. 8-9 in Kearney, Neb.

Event registration

There is still time to register for this year’s event. Registration for the entire conference is $80, if completed by July 31. Starting Aug. 1 it’s $100.

Full registration includes the conference, two meals and the banquet. Students also are encouraged to attend.

Student registration is $50 by July 31, and $60 after that. Registration can be completed here. For more information about the grazing conference, the Center for Grassland Studies can be reached at (402) 472-4101.


Aug. 8

9 a.m. Registration opens

10 a.m. Welcome and Announcements … Erin Laborie, extension educator, West Central Research and Extension Center

10:10 a.m. Center for Grassland Studies Update … Steve Waller, director, Center for Grassland Studies

10:20 a.m. Fences and Water Points: Where They Should Go … Jim Gerrish, grazing consultant/owner, American GrazingLands Services, LLC

11:40 a.m. Beef Systems Initiative … Archie Clutter, dean/director, Agricultural Research Division, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Noon Lunch

1 p.m. Grass-based Health and the Ruminant Revolution … Peter Ballerstedt, forage product manager, Barenbrug USA

2 p.m. The Good, Bad and Ugly of Weedy Plants … Chris Helzer, director, Science for Nebraska Program, The Nature Conservancy

2:40 p.m. 2016 Leopold Conservation Award winner … Nancy Peterson, Plum Thicket Farms

3:20 p.m. Break

3:50 p.m. Managing Grassland Vegetation to Benefit Livestock and Wildlife … Patricia Johnson, professor, South Dakota State University, West River Ag Center

4:30 p.m. What is Plant Cover and How Can We Manage it for Wildlife Needs? … Dwayne Elmore, associate professor and Bollenbach Endowed Chair in Wildlife Management, Oklahoma State University

5:15 p.m. Social – compliments of Kearney Ramada

6 p.m. Banquet

7:30 p.m. Fencing and Water Development Workshop … Jim Gerrish, grazing consultant/owner, American GrazingLands Services, LLC

Aug. 9

8 a.m. Registration opens

8:25 a.m. Welcome and Announcements … Troy Walz, extension educator, West Central Research & Extension Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

8:30 a.m. Producer Panel – Annual Forages vs Row Crops Under Irrigation … John Maddux, producer

9 a.m. Producer Panel – Economics of Grazing Strategies … Jim Jenkins, producer

9:30 a.m. Producer Panel – Discussion

10 a.m. Break

10:30 a.m. It Costs How Much!? … Aaron Berger, extension educator, Panhandle Research & Extension Center

11 a.m. Managing Risks in a Risky World … Jay Parsons, associate professor, Ag Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

11:30 a.m. Lunch

12:30 p.m. Selecting Cool-season Grasses for Irrigated or Dryland Conditions … Peter Ballerstedt, forage product manager, Barenbrug USA

1:30 p.m. Working Lands for Wildlife … Bill Vodehnal, wildlife biologist, Nebraska Game & Parks

2 p.m. NRCS Cost Share Programs … Craig Derickson, Nebraska State Conservationist and Brad Soncksen, Nebraska assistant state conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service

2:40 p.m. Final Comments and Adjourn … Brent Plugge, extension educator, West Central Research & Extension Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

The keynote speakers for the 2017 Nebraska Grazing Conference will be Jim Gerrish of May, Idaho, and Peter Ballerstedt, forage product manager of Barenbrug USA. The Nebraska Grazing Conference will be held Aug. 8-9 at the Kearney Ramada in Kearney, Neb.

“This year, we have a diverse program with two highly sought-after speakers, Jim Gerrish and Peter Ballerstedt,” said Daren Redfearn, with the University of Nebraska and one of the organizers of the conference.

Gerrish and his wife, Dawn, own and operate a consulting firm to help farmers and ranchers on private and public lands more effectively manage their grazing for economic and environmental sustainability, according to their website. The Gerrishes make their home in the Pahsimeroi Valley in central Idaho, where they work with ranchers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico who use irrigated pastures and native rangeland. In addition to private consulting, the Gerrishes travel to workshops and seminars all across the U.S. and Canada sharing their techniques for more efficient grazing.

Ballerstedt is the forage product manager of Barenbrug USA. He received his bachelor of science in agriculture in 1981 and master of science in 1983, both from the University of Georgia, and a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky in 1986, specializing in forage management and utilization, minoring in ruminant nutrition. He was the forage extension specialist at Oregon State University from 1986 to 1992.

“Extensive experience led Peter to study human diet and health,” according to his biography. “What he has learned does not agree with the low-fat-is-heart-healthy dietary advice we’ve been given for more than 50 years. This understanding, combined with his forage background, has strengthened his interest in the truly sustainable forms of agriculture — the production of ruminant animal products.”

Ballerstedt will speak about grass-based health and the ruminant revolution, as well as selecting cool-season grasses for irrigated and dryland conditions. Gerrish will cover the placement of fencing and water points in his presentations, as well as conducting a workshop after the banquet on Tuesday evening about fencing and water development.

“The (Aug. 8) morning session will be a workshop format on Optimizing Input Costs highlighted by presentations from two prominent Nebraska producers, John Maddux and Jim Jenkins,” Redfearn said.

Maddux, a producer from Wauneta, Neb., will discuss annual forages versus row crops under irrigation, while Jenkins, a producer from Callaway, Neb., will discuss the economics of grazing strategies.

Other speakers will cover a variety of topics during the two-day event from the beef systems initiative and managing grassland for livestock and wildlife to plant cover, managing risks and Natural Resource Conservation Service cost-share programs.

There will also be a presentation from the 2016 Leopold Conservation Award winner, Nancy Peterson of Plum Thicket Farms in Gordon, Neb. She will talk about conservation and management changes they have made on their farm to make it more efficient for grazing. ❖

— Clark is a freelance livestock journalist from western Nebraska. She can be reached by email at


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