Learn Biological Farming with

video, text, charts, pictures, graphics, worksheets and more!

  • Video Instruction

    Learn from Gary Zimmer as he walks the Otter Creek Farm and shows you specific tactics for biological farming.

  • Useful Worksheets

    Bring your strategy to a tactical level by building clear goals and next steps.

  • Proven Recommendations

    Learn what works on the Owl Farm that Gary Zimmer runs, including sample soil tests and fertilizer recommendations.

Course includes lessons on:

Each lesson will take you 10-20 minutes to complete, on average, and includes a handy summary at the end to help you take notes.

  • key biological farming terms and the concept of a biological growing system;

  • how soil health fits into the biological farming system;

  • how to measure soil health;

  • how the principles of biological farming factor into the entire system;

  • why some farmers till, and why no-till might work against your biological farming systems;

  • why biodiversity is important to managing weeds, and specific methods to controlling weeds without toxins;

  • how to understand the difference between negative and beneficial insects in their fields, and be able to make the basic connection between soil health and pest and disease pressure; and

  • how to build a biological farming system customized for your land, operation and goals.

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Watch Intro Video

What is Biological Farming?

Here's a sample in-the-field video from instructor Gary Zimmer

Course curriculum

Below are the chapters and lessons you will complete in this course:

  • 1

    Biological Farming Course Introduction

  • 2

    Biological Farming Fundamentals

  • 3

    Measuring & Managing Biological Systems

    • Key Concept: Soil Balancing

    • Key Concept: The Nutrient Flow Cycle

    • Start with a Soil Test

    • Soil Testing Basics

    • Using Soil Tests

    • Two Soil Testing Case Studies

    • Classroom: Understanding Soil Testing

    • Measuring & Managing Self-Review

  • 4

    Biological Farming Fertilizers

    • Defining a Good Fertilizer

    • 3 Common Fertilizer Strategies

    • Creating a Biological Fertilizer System

    • Compost, Liming and Manure

    • Study Break: Dr. William Albrecht's The Other Side of the Fence

    • Managing Nitrogen

    • Managing Phosphorus

    • Managing Calcium

    • Managing Magnesium

    • Managing Potassium

    • Managing Sulfur

    • Managing Micronutrients & Trace Minerals

    • Starting Your Fertilizer Program

    • Biological Farming Fertilizer Self-Review

  • 5

    Cover Crops & Tillage

    • Cover Crops

    • Till, No-Till and Zone Tilling Systems

    • Addressing Soil Compaction

    • Classroom: Tillage and Cover Crops

    • Cover Crop, Tilling & Compaction Self-Review

  • 6

    Weed & Pest Control in a Biological System

    • Weed Management Strategy

    • Herbicides & Weed Control Tactics

    • Pests & Insect Controls

    • Pesticides & Pest Control Tactics

    • Weed & Pest Control Self-Review

  • 7

    Putting the Biological Farming System Together

    • Piecing Together the Biological Approach

    • Two Key Strategic Questions

    • Build Your Own Biological Farm Plan

    • Start with the Soil Scorecard

    • Course Summary

    • Biological Farming Course Exam

    • Additional Learning Opportunities from Acres U.S.A.

Led by a Pro

Meet your instructor for this class:

Senior Instructor

Gary Zimmer

Gary Zimmer was raised on a dairy farm in northeastern Wisconsin. He received training in dairy nutrition, earning a bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii (1970). After achieving his educational goals, he spent the next five years teaching a farm operation and management course at Winona Area Technical Institute, Winona, Minnesota. In addition to nutrition, he was required to teach courses in crops, soils and farm finance. His approach to teaching included outside speakers, on-farm projects, field trips and much study. He has always asked questions and looked at many ways of farming with an open mind. This led him to discover The Albrecht Papers, Brookside consulting training, work as a private consultant in southeastern Minnesota, and ultimately to promote a better understanding and appreciation of biological farming.

For the last 30 years, Gary Zimmer has been evaluating farming practices, which has presented him with many interesting observations and methods for successful biological farming. In the early 1980s, he and three partners started Midwestern Bio-Ag. With their main emphasis on education, Midwestern Bio-Ag currently works with more than 3,500 farms and has 75 trained consultants. Besides being president of Midwestern Bio-Ag, for the last few years, Gary has also managed the Bio-Ag Learning Center, a livestock and crop demonstration farm where he tests products and methods for successful biological farming.Gary continues to be an educator at heart and is a much sought-after speaker. He conducts presentations from coast to coast for diverse groups of people, including farmers, farm financial groups, private farm consultants, environmental groups and other agribusinesses.

About Otter Creek Farm

Otter Creek Organic Farm is also operated and co-owned with his son Nicholas. The 240-acre farm is certified organic and grows edible beans, corn and forages. On the 100 acres of creek bottom pasture, rotational grazing is done either with dairy heifers or beef cattle. The first major test project on this farm was to see how rapidly low-fertility, run-down soils could be fixed with organic methods.

Start Learning

You will get access to the class for years with your purchase. Take the class at your own pace. (The class price will increase to $299 later this year.)

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