Soil Health Conference & Annual Meeting

Please follow the steps below to reserve your spot!

-Click on the image below to access a PDF version of our registration form, save to your computer, and once completed email to or mail to SD Soil Health Coalition, 43968 139th Street Webster, SD 57274.
-A Microsoft Word version of the form is also available at the bottom of the page, click on the button to download.
-Payment for your registration may be made by mailing a check to: SD Soil Health Coalition 43968 139th Street Webster, SD 57274 or by clicking on the “Pay For Registration Electronically” button at the bottom of the page.
*Please Note: We apologize but all internet browsers may not allow for successful use of this Square payment option. It is recommended that you use a recent version of Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari. Payments will also be accepted on-site the day of the event, and if you would like assistance or to make a payment over the phone please call (605) 368-4091.


Pay For Registration Electronically

Download Microsoft Word Version Of Form






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.


Break Out Sessions


Alan Hojer

Alan Hojer is Manager and Legacy Consultant of “Keep Farmers Farming”, a division of First Dakota National Bank.

Alan joined First Dakota National Bank in April of 2014 and was given the opportunity to work extensively with farm/ranch estate planning, transition/succession planning and other areas such as “Marketing & Risk Management” through the “Keep Farmers Farming” program.  Most recently, Alan was certified as a “Certified Estate Planner.” This has been the most Challenging and rewarding experience of his professional career but Alan feels blessed to be part of this great intimate effort with farm and ranch Families. You can expect the information he presents to be thought provoking and moving. Alan & his wife Pam are the proud parents of three children and 10 grandchildren.  They look forward to the day that he and Pam will get to work day by day next to their children and grandchildren at their family operations. Alan is a proud alumni of SDARL Class VII.



Dr. Lee Briese 

Lee Briese (BREEZ) is an independent crop consultant from central North Dakota. He provides agronomic consulting services directly to growers including fertility, pest management, crop management, precision agriculture, reduced till, and cover crop management. Lee earned his Doctor of Plant Health from the University of Nebraska.








Levi Neuharth

Levi Neuharth along with his wife Crystal, children and family, farm and raise livestock on both cropland and grassland acres near Fort Pierre, SD. They grow a wide variety of crops including winter wheat, spring wheat, oats, peas, milo, sunflowers, as well as hay barley. They incorporate livestock through the custom grazing of their grasslands as well as raise both dairy goats and chickens. Diversity is a priority in everything they do and additional soil health practices they have pursued include the use of no-till across the entire operation, rotational grazing, as well as cover crops. Levi is currently the Vice-Chairman of the SD Soil Health Coalition and is active in other organizations such as Hayes Hall Board, 4-C Volunteer Fire Department, Weed Board, and The Masons. The Neuharth family received an award from the Society for Rangeland Management for Excellence In Rangeland Management in 2018.



Shawn Freeland

Shawn Freeland, his wife Kristy and their two daughters live on their farm in Caputa, SD where they run a cow/calf operation, stockers, beef finishing, as well as produce irrigated livestock forage. Additional positions held by Shawn include serving as a District 3 Director for the South Dakota Stock Growers, Director for the St. Germain Irrigating Company, Director for the Pennington Conservation District, member of SDARL Class VIII and member of the SD Soil Health Coalition Board of Directors. Shawn’s farm has been completely no-till since 2016. He also utilizes cover crops, livestock grazing of cover crops, managed intensive grazing practices and no longer uses synthetic fertilizer. Recent projects include an educational “Cover Crop Maze” that he and his family operated this fall.



Dean & Candice Lockner

Producers near Ree Heights, South Dakota, they will share their experiences “Working with the Laws of Nature: Water, Wind and Soil”.The Lockner’s were featured in a 2018 “Our Amazing Grasslands” video during which they explained the importance and benefits of diverse grasslands including the positive impact they have on wildlife, pollinator species and soil health. They have worked to increase the plant species diversity of their grasslands and have done quite a bit of work with different types of grazing management, and the seeding of perennial grasses.“When you can touch the soil, smell it, feel it and see what it can do and know that, that is what feeds and nourishes us to be strong and healthy and vibrant and the whole circle is healthy or not healthy based upon our management decisions. The contribution to soil health is incalculable.”  -Candice Lockner



Notable Attractions With Tours Available: Watertown South Dakota


-The Redlin Art Center, 1200 33rd Street SE, (605) 882-3877

-Lake Area Technical Institute, 1201 Arrow Ave, Please Contact Luanne To Schedule A Drop-In Tour (605) 882-5284 Ext. 241

*All attendees will also receive a complimentary packet of information from the Watertown Chamber of Commerce


Daycare Option: At Lake Area Technical Institute

-Those with children over age three, interested in a potential daycare option please contact Kristy Jerzak (605) 882-5284 Ext. 440, Director of the Daycare Unit at Lake Area Technical Institute.