Carbon conference in Hazelton aims to educate, help local farmers

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A conference that was held earlier Wednesday in Hazelton aimed to help farmers get that break they’ve been looking for.

People from all over the state went out to the pasture to learn more about how others “get it done.”

Farmers, ranchers and producers are getting together sharing their tricks of the trade. An educational event was held in Hazelton. Here’s what we found:

“There’s a lot to it. The whole topic of carbon. There’s the financial and there’s ways to manage the land to increase the carbon sequestration in the ground. There’s ways of learning about how carbon is recycled in our ecosystems,” said Beckie Phillips, the Executive Director of Ecological Insights.

One of the goals is to increase the awareness and understanding of grasslands as carbon sinks.

“So, a carbon sink is a place where the carbon is able to actually be stored below ground So, globally, there are certain ecosystems that function as better carbon sinks than others,” said Phillips.

Carbon helps fertilize the soil. It also allows it to hold water and even gives it the ability to support microbial life.

While taking better care of the environment is one of the missions here, that’s not the only thing to consider.

More carbon in the soil means more grass growth, and more grass feeds more livestock.

“It’s trying to get producers to bring profitability back to their ranches and then do a sustainable, or we call it regenerative. And it’s bringing the natural resources back from years where they’re degraded some,” Jerry Doan, Chairman of ND Grazing Lands Coalition.

Jesse Kalberer operates a 1,000-acre ranch in Hazelton. He offered up his time and the land for demonstrations.

“We’re trying to graze longer through the year so we don’t have to feed as much. There’s 22 or 23 different smaller pastures here. So, we can graze each one of them smaller pastures for three or four days. And by the time we get back around to the one we started in, it’s been two or three months before they’ve eaten grass there. So, that grass had two or three months to regrow,” Kalberer.

He says this technique is something he’s happy to share.

“If I can let other people see what we’re doing. They can make that decision whether it’s going to work for them, whether they’re willing to do it or not. I think it’s a good thing. We’ve seen the benefits from it. Especially in a drought, to still have grass like this, I think it helps,” said Kalberer.

Plantlife, wildlife and the livelihoods of North Dakota farms, agriculture and environmental groups working together for a more sustainable future.

This is the second carbon capture event the North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition and Ecological Insights have put on.

It’s the first time it’s been held in Hazelton.

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