Free Pasture Renovation, Erosion Control & Key Line Plowing Workshop

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A free workshop on Pasture Renovation, Erosion Control, & Key Line Plowing will be offered Monday, July 18 from 3-5 p.m. at Against the Grain Farm.plow in pasture

Do your hillside pastures turn brown too soon during dry weather? When it rains, does erosion become a problem on your hills? Cooperative Extension and Against the Grain Farm will host a free workshop to demonstrate equipment and techniques to address these issues, while also increasing soil biological activity.

Presenters Derek Weiss and Richard Boylan, along with Holly Whitesides and Andy Bryant of Against the Grain Farm, will discuss and demonstrate techniques of Keyline planning and deep soil ripping on the upper pasture of ATG farm, where the south face dries out too quickly, and some erosion has begun in valley floors. By working with the contours of the land, and employing a new sub-soiling implement secured for community use by Cooperative Extension and the Watauga Office of Soil & Water Conservation, infiltration of rainwater will increase, increasing pasture root growth and reducing erosion.

The workshop begins at 3:00 p.m. with an introduction to the system of Keyline Planning as popularized by Australian writer P. A. Yeomans. Tools for mapping contours across ridges and valleys will be demonstrated, with participants having a chance to try them. Participants will then get to observe the new subsoiler in action, ripping “keylines” to spread water across the landscape, slowing and hopefully even reversing erosion over time.

For further information or to reserve a place in the class, e-mail or call Watauga County Cooperative Extension at 828-264-3061. Directions to the farm can be found at the website

Holly Whitesides and Andy Bryant have 13 years organic farming experience and have been farming together since 2010. In the Spring of 2013 they began transitioning to biodynamic practices. Against the Grain is a small-scale diversified farm located 15 minutes from downtown Boone in Zionville, North Carolina, raising a broad spectrum of vegetables on a little under 2 acres, and pasturing chicken, turkey, pork, beef and goats on the rest. The focus at Against the Grain is to nurture the soil in order to grow high quality, nutritious food for the local community.

Derek Weiss works as a builder/farmer/landscaper/regenerative agriculture practitioner with a background in Ecology. He has been pursuing research and experience with various techniques of regenerative agriculture, including Keyline Design, Holzer Permaculture, natural building, and passive solar greenhouse design.

Richard Boylan works with N.C. Cooperative Extension as an Area Agent for Agriculture in Watauga and Ashe Counties, and the surrounding region, focusing on alternative crops, organic management, local foods, and integrating Permaculture techniques into working small farms.

The subsoiler demonstrated at the workshop will be housed at the the Watauga County Agricultural Services Center, and members of the community can reserve it for rental by calling the Watauga Office of Soil & Water Conservation at (828) 264-0842 (extension 3). A 40 horsepower 4wd tractor is about the minimum requirement to successfully pull this implement.

For further information or to reserve a place in the class, e-mail or call Watauga County Cooperative Extension at 828-264-3061.