SOIL HEALTH / REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE PIONEERS
Regenerative Ag Guru, author of DIRT TO SOIL, and partner in Understanding Ag, LLC. With his wife and son, Gabe owns and operates Brown's Ranch, a diversified 5,000 acre ranch near Bismarck, North Dakota. The Browns practice holistic management, integrating grazing and no-till cropping systems, and grow a wide variety of cash crops, multi-species cover crops along with all natural grass finished beef and lamb. They also raise pastured laying hens, broilers and swine. This diversity and integration has regenerated the natural resources on the ranch without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides. The Browns are part owners of a state inspected abattoir which allows them to direct market their products. They believe that healthy soil leads to clean air, clean water, healthy plants, animals, and people.
Ray the Soil Guy is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist, farmer and rancher, and founder of Understanding Ag, LLC and Soil Health Academy, LLC. Ray has over 30 years experience as a Soil Conservationist, Water Quality Specialist, and Conservation Agronomist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). During his tenure with the NRCS, Ray served in New Mexico, Missouri, Oregon, and North Carolina. Ray also owns and operates a 150-acre farm near Seymour, Missouri that he operates along with his wife and family.
DR. RICK HANEY
Soil Chemist/Microbiologist and Research Farmer at USDA-ARS, and creator of the Haney Soil Health Test. Rick grew up farming in Custer County, OK before he earned his PhD in soil microbial ecology and chemistry from Texas A&M University. Rick has researched soil ecology and soil testing for more than 20 years. Rick was awarded the USDA's 2017 Plains Area and 2017 National Technology Transfer Awards. Rick was also awarded the 2018 USDA REE Under Secretary's award for the Haney Test and the 2018 Secretary of Agriculture Honor Award for for the USDA's strategic goal of strengthening the stewardship of private lands through technology and research.
Jimmy is the Regional Director for USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation (FPAC) for the five state area of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. He owns and manages 2,000 cropland acres and 5,000 rangeland acres in Dewey County, OK. The farm was converted to no-till in 1995, and Jimmy later went a few steps further and adopted crop rotations, cover crops and planned grazing management to decrease soil erosion and increase water infiltration. In 2017, Emmons Farm received the inaugural Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award Given, the Leopold Conservation Award recognizes extraordinary achievement in voluntary stewardship and management of natural resources. Emmons serves as President of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and on the board of the Dewey County Conservation District.
DR. BUZ KLOOT
Buz is a Research Associate Professor in the Environmental Health Sciences Department at USC’s Arnold School of Public Health and holds degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and an MBA and PhD from the University of South Carolina. After a misguided stint as a chemical engineer in Namibia, Buz later became an assistant professor at USC in 1991. After meeting Ray Archuleta in 2010, Buz suddenly figured that if soils could be healed, water quality would take care of itself. Since then, Buz has advocated for healthy soils through storytelling in video media and has built up a portfolio of research by collaborating directly with farmers, especially in the use of cover crops to radically cut back on fertilizers and to improve per acre income.
Mitchell is a farmer and soil health consultant from Washington, Iowa. His company, Continuum Ag, is the “Intel Processor” of agronomic data, providing an infinite pipeline of data-driven machine learning and actionable analytics to improve soil health around the world. Mitchell has built a global footprint, a growing team, and a massive soil health database. As a “boots-on-the-ground” soil health consulting company, Continuum Ag works with leading agriculturalists who want to improve their soil and treat it as a Living Dynamic Continuum. Future work includes expanding their global soil language, standardizing the data for sustainable food transparency, and evaluating more ag input products for localized efficacy and impact on soil health, while always continuing to connect farmers with opportunities.
Russell is a first generation farmer in the foothills of Hickory, North Carolina, where he farms JRH Grain Farms, LLC. Russell is known as one of the most progressive young farmers in the country. Russell has been a featured producer in the Farm Press Magazine for Maximizing his Cover Crop Benefits, National No-till Farmer for integration of cattle onto covers and the Haney test for reducing fertilizer inputs on cash crops. His operation has grown through hard work to almost 1000 acres. Russell's operation focuses on maximizing profits and direct consumer marketing for all their products, including corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, pastures beef and pork, and has partnered with Foothills Distillery producing the first bourbon in North Carolina since prohibition.
Lance is the owner of Soil Health Innovations, LLC and Director of Soil Health at Ward Laboratories in Kearney, NE. Lance is an expert on the Haney Test and PLFA. He is aimed at guiding producer's management decisions with land stewardship, resource preservation and rejuvenation, and sustainable food production at the highest priority. At Soil Health Innovations, Lance offers the SR-1 instrument for measuring soil respiration and consulting services surrounding the Haney Test developed by Dr. Rick Haney and his colleagues at the USDA-ARS Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory in Temple, TX.
DR. SCOTT HUTCHINS - DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY USDA-REE
Dr. Scott Hutchins is the Deputy Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area which is comprised of the Agricultural Research Service, Economic Research Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Together these agencies cut across every USDA department and have unique federal leadership responsibility to advance agricultural research, extension, and education.
Dr. Hutchins was sworn-in by Secretary Perdue on January 29, 2019. After nearly 32 years, he retired from CortevaTM AgriScience where he held many roles in Program Management, Human Resources, Six Sigma, R&D Portfolio Management, and Global Administration. In addition, he is a Board-Certified Entomologist, Adjunct Professor of entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Past President of the Entomological Society of America (ESA), and Fellow of the ESA.
Dr. Hutchins received a B.S. in entomology from Auburn University, an M.S. in entomology from Mississippi State University, and a Ph.D. in entomology from Iowa State University. He and his wife Janet have three children and seven grandchildren.
BRAD BUCKLEY - TEXAS HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE
Representative Brad Buckley was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in November of 2018 represent House District 54, which includes part of Bell County and all of Lampasas County in Central Texas. He currently serves on the House Appropriations committee, the Agriculture & Livestock committee, and the Local and Consent Calendars committee.
A native Texan, Buckley was born and raised in rural Bell County and is a product of Killeen ISD schools. He is a proud Texas Aggie and received his bachelor's degree in 1989 and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1993. After graduating, he returned to his hometown of Killeen to open his veterinary practice and has been serving his community and their pets since 1994. He has served on the school board for the Killeen Independent School District and is a past Chair of the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, former board member for Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children, and currently serves as vice-chair of 14Forward, an economic development initiative to bring greater economic impact to the Greater Fort Hood area.
He is the proud husband of Dr. Susan Buckley, who is a career educator and currently serves as Executive Director of Secondary Schools for the Killeen Independent School District, and proud father of Emily, Erin, and Bo, all of whom are also Aggies. Representative Buckley and Susan live on their ranch in Salado, where he raises, shows, and trains cutting horses.
Dirk Aaron has been the General Manager of the Clearwater Underground Water Conservation District since 2011 and is the President of the Texas Alliance of Groundwater Districts. Prior to becoming the district General Manager, Dirk worked as a County Extension Agent for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service for over 30 years. He served in multiple counties across Texas in the areas of production agriculture and irrigation efficiency, beef cattle production, swine production, and horticulture and economic development. During his first 20 years of employment, he worked directly with the agricultural industry in the Texas High Plains to implement irrigation efficiency with new technology and worked directly with the groundwater management teams to implement those technologies. Dirk was recognized with the Agency’s Superior Service Award three times during his career. Dirk received his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in 1981 and completed his Master of Science Degree in 1991 from Texas Tech University. He has been married for 33 years to Cindy and has two sons.
DR. LIZ HANEY - MODERATOR / ORGANIZER
Dr. Liz Haney is a Research Scientist at Texas AgriLife Blackland Research & Extension Center, Temple, TX. She works with USDA-NRCS on the Conservation Effects Assessment Project to model the effects of conservation practices on water quantity and quality. She is researching the expansion of the model to include soil health principles and processes, including regenerative ag practices and their effect on soil biological activity, soil carbon storage and nutrient cycling.