Panelist Biographies

Keynote

Brian Richter

Brian Richter has been a global leader in water science and conservation for more than 25 years. He is the Chief Scientist for the Water program of The Nature Conservancy, an international conservation organization, where he promotes sustainable water use and management with governments, corporations and local communities. He is also the President of Sustainable Waters, a global water education organization. Brian has consulted on more than 120 water projects worldwide. He serves as a water advisor to some of the world’s largest corporations, investment banks and the United Nations, and has testified before the U.S. Congress on multiple occasions. He also teaches a course on Water Sustainability at the University of Virginia.

John Aeschliman

The expense in time, money and loss of soil due to both tillage erosion and water erosion on our steep hills drove John to consider alternative farming methods such as minimum till or no-till. John now direct seeds 100% of the acres he farms. With more than forty years of direct seeding under his belt John has seen the long term benefits that a direct seed program provides. The soil quality has improved because of better water infiltration and higher organic matter content. Earthworms have become plentiful in John’s fields where under a conventional tillage system they were almost nonexistent.

Barry Fisher

Barry Fisher, a 32-year veteran of NRCS and a native Indianan, is the State Soil Health Specialist for NRCS in that State. He provides agronomic training and assistance to NRCS field staff and represents NRCS in the Conservation Cropping System Initiative (CCSI) and the Midwest Cover Crop Council (MCCC). He strives to advance the technology of successfully integrating no-till, cover crops, crop rotations, adaptive nutrient management and precision farming for higher soil health and function.  Barry has served as a District Conservationist, Conservation Agronomist for West-Central Indiana, Conservation Tillage Coordinator for NRCS in Indiana and most recently as State Agronomist. He and his wife Michael own and operate a small “never-till” grain and grazed livestock farm in West- Central Indiana.  He has a BS degree in Agronomy.

Paul Jasa

Paul Jasa serves as an Extension Engineer, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he develops and conducts educational programs related to crop production that improve profitability, build soil health and reduce risks to the environment.

He has worked with planting equipment and tillage system evaluation at the University since 1978, gaining valuable information about the “dos and don’ts” of no-till along the way in a number of crop rotations and soil types. He is happy to share information about the systems approach to long-term benefits of continuous no-till.

Jeff Mitchell

Jeff’s current research and extension program focuses on soil and water management in vegetable production systems throughout California, impacts of preharvest vegetable management practices on postharvest product quality and extension methodology.

A major component of Jeff’s research and extension effort involves leading an interdisciplinary team consisting of UC Farm and IPM Advisors, campus-based researchers, and 12 farmers in the San Joaquin Valley’s West Side region that is currently conducting on-farm demonstrations and evaluations of biologically integrated farming practices in the annual cropping systems of this region. The objectives of this work are 1) to facilitate information exchange among participating farmers, consultants and researchers on soil building practices and options for reduced reliance on agrichemical inputs, 2) to monitor and evaluate on-farm demonstrations of soil building practices, including cover cropping and organic soil amendment inputs, 3) to determine the extent to which IPM practices are utilized in row crops on the West Side and identify constraints preventing further adoption of biologically intensive pest management practices and 4) to provide community based demonstrations of existing technologies to overcome constraints while making use of participatory research teams to develop and refine additional information.

An important research component of this on-farm demonstration project involves the evaluation of surface organic mulches in no-till vegetable production systems. Jeff is currently conducting a wide-ranging program in this area to evaluate the effectiveness of these practices for: suppressing weeds, improving production efficiencies in terms of nutrient inputs and irrigation water, and for providing optimal soil temperature regimes for crop growth.

Joe Nester

Joe Nester owns Nester Ag, LLC, an independent crop consulting company in northwestern Ohio. Nester Ag provides nutrient management plans for farmers in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, and primarily in the Western Lake Erie Basin. Nester also manages the Maumee Adapt Network of on-farm research and is a research partner with Ohio State on several projects. He is past board chair of the Ohio Certified Crop Advisers and is current chairman of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program Advisory Board in Ohio.