Soil Health Conference & Annual Meeting

2020 Sponsorship/Exhibitor Opportunities Now Available!




Dr. Christine Jones


Dr. Christine Jones has a PhD in soil biochemistry and has gained international recognition as a speaker, presenting at workshops, field days, seminars and conferences throughout Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Western Europe, Central America, the United States and Canada.

In her presentation, Christine will provide case study examples to demonstrate how the positive influence of plant root exudates on soil structure and function reduces reliance on high-analysis fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and fungicides; rapidly increases stable soil carbon; improves soil structure, aeration and water-holding capacity and optimizes soil, plant, animal, and human health, water quality and farm profit.

Christine will explain how quorum sensing in soil microbial communities can be activated by the establishment and appropriate management of high diversity crop and pasture mixes and the use of biostimulants rich in autoinducers.



Derek Axten

Derek Axten owns and operates a diversified grain farm in Southern Saskatchewan Canada with his family.  He has implemented innovative ideas to improve sustainability and profitability of the family farm.  While attending many workshops and conferences with his wife, they met many farmers and scientists who taught them to change the way they looked at farming.   This led to their journey towards soil health and regenerating their farmland.  Learning about soil biology and how soil functions, has renewed their passion for farming, and improved the farm’s productivity.

Derek operates a no-till farm and has improved his soil health by seeding intercrops, companion crops and cover crops.  Increasing the farm’s plant diversity and intensity is feeding the soil biology, which in turn is regenerating the land.  Improving soil health has allowed him to reduce synthetic inputs, increase water efficiency and build organic matter.  He has also implemented controlled traffic farming, composting and grazing as part of their farming system.

Axten latest addition to the farm is a food grade seed cleaning plant.  Derek wants to add value to the farm’s grains by selling them directly to food companies that value the way the crops are raised.  He wants to focus on growing food and not commodities.



Tom Cannon

Born March 6, 1968, in Blackwell, Oklahoma, the fourth generation of Goodson Ranch pioneer farmer/ranchers. Tom Cannon became unable to complete his Oklahoma State University education due to his father’s debilitating pickup wreck in 1997. He was later awarded the Oklahoma Governor’s Conservation award, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Stewardship award, NRCS Cooperator of the year for Oklahoma, Quail & Pheasants forever conservation award, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Environmental Stewardship awards.

Finding the soil at 1% OM, Tom attended his first No Till on the Plains in January, 1998, a life-changing experience.  The new Goodson Ranch CEO sold all tillage equipment and converted to 100% no-till – and now, among other radical experiences, he finds his soil testing at over 3% OM.

Sharing his successes and failures on Regenerative Ag though public speaking engagements and the personal relations gleaned at these engagements are an increasing priority. Relationships with God, family, and friends tops his list of priorities. Soil and the soils biological relationships are foundational to the success of the Goodson Ranch.

Tom says, “I have a passion for our creation and an even greater passion for the Creator.  Responsibility for good stewardship tops my list of occupational duties.”


Dr. Andrea Bjornestad

Dr. Andrea Bjornestad is an Assistant Professor and Extension mental health specialist in the Department of Counseling and Human Development at South Dakota State University.  She is a licensed professional counselor in South Dakota with areas of expertise in school counseling and marriage and family therapy. As an Assistant Professor, her research has focused on the health and wellness (e.g. PTSD, secondary trauma) of military service members, veterans, and their families. As a former military spouse, she has organized workshops and served on numerous committees to help promote wellness in the military. She is currently the principal investigator on a cooperative agreement with the United States Army Research Institute for the Social and Behavioral Sciences that involves active listening training with Army leaders.

Similar to her passion for helping military families, she was raised in South Dakota and is interested in helping rural communities. Her father is a farm machinery dealer, so she has witnessed both the successes and hardships that occur with farm families.  She currently leads the SDSU Extension Rural Behavioral Health team and is a Mental Health First Aid instructor.  Her research and outreach efforts in Extension have pertained to the mental health of farmers and ranchers. She has conducted two pilot studies in South Dakota and a regional study examining the effects of stress on the mental health of agricultural producers.  She travels across South Dakota educating various agricultural groups on how to identify and manage farm stress and has been an invited speaker in regional and national webinars.