Make Plans for the 24th Annual Winter Conference of No Till on the PlainsWed, 08 Jan 2020 16:02:29 CST
Oklahoma Radio Ag Network Farm Director, Ron Hays talked with Steve Swaffer about the 24th Annual Winter Conference for No Till on the Plains coming up later this month, "We really try to put out information and have speakers available for our attendees that are producing some of the best information, and the best results on their farms. From implementing soil health systems and producing crops that are healthy and productive and helping the bottom line, just as much as anything."
This event has been held previously in Salina. Swaffer says the event came about because producers wanted soil health help, "24 years ago, a group of producers who were disturbed by the amount of soil they were losing off of their field, tried to put together a group of speakers and experts that could help producers understand how the basic switch to no-till farming could help them reduce their soil erosion losses, and eventually that would result in better crops and better profits on their farms.
And in the last 24 years that that simple system of switching to no-till has now evolved into a complete soil health system that includes crop rotation, includes cover crops, includes water management, and livestock integration. So now it's a complete system of farming that is no-till is just a part of it."
For the event in 2020, Swaffer says they want to give folks that are at the beginning of their process switching from conventional tillage over to a different system a way to get started, "There's some basic information that will be provided for anybody who wants to get started, but there's going to be plenty of stuff for somebody who's really already adopted no-till using cover crops, but looking to understand their soil biology, their water management, the parts of the soil system that includes fungus, and how that benefits their crops and the interrelationships that go on in the soil to produce profit and crops. So we really are always looking to provide information for anybody within the spectrum of farming."
This year's lineup for No-Till on the Plains is going to be a good one. Swaffer says they have some great speakers lined up, "We have Michael Phillips, who is a gentleman from New Hampshire, who has really focused quite a bit on the fungal aspect of soil biology. We have Steve Groff, who's been working with the producers for cover cropping for the last 20 years. The latest thing that he's working on is growing, industrial hemp, and in a no-till and cover crop system. We have, Brendan Rockey who is from out in Colorado, producing potatoes and quinoa out in the high desert. We have Lucinda Stuenkel, who's from here in Kansas, working on livestock integration and reducing the amount of inputs on her system. So that's just the tip of the iceberg of speakers that we have."
In addition to the conference on the 28th and 29th, Swaffer says there will also be some seminars for beginners, "We have two free, crop pre-conference workshops they're both on January 27th. One of them is the fundamentals of soil health, and again this is focused on producers who either haven't started to make the switch over, or are just getting started. That will really cover the five principles of soil health. We will be adding speakers who have already adopted many of these practices or are working with those producers. Then again, on the other end of the spectrum, our advanced symposium really focuses on the guys who have been at this for 30 years. We have John Kempf who will talk about the nutritional needs of your plant during the cropping year, using tissue sample analysis, and then Michael Phillips is a part of that as well. He'll be focused on enhancing soil biology and understanding how multiple species can really help the cropping system by allowing those species to help one another. So it's really for folks who are looking for that next innovation, and how they improve their soils and ultimately how they improve their farms."
Swaffer says this year they expect another big crowd coming from several states, "We attract folks from all over the country, as well as the world. We would expect producers from 25 to 35 states to be attending this year, as well as seven or eight foreign countries. And really the heart of our, our conference comes from here in the Great Plains, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, but we attract folks from all over the country. Our registration is still available online through January 24th. You can do firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will take walk-in registrations the day of the conference.
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