BROOKFIELD, Wis. — Continuing to build on the unique educational foundation of its first three events, the 4th annual National Strip-Tillage Conference will feature more than 40 different learning sessions during two strip-till-focused, knowledge-packed days in early August.
For the first time, the event comes to the La Vista Hotel & Conference Center in Omaha, Neb., on Aug. 3 and 4. It will bring together a diverse group of dedicated strip-tillers, consultants and researchers who will share experience-based tips and techniques that both veteran and new adopters of strip-till can put to work immediately in their operations.
The just-completed 2017 speaker program contains 7 general sessions, 12 classrooms, 26 roundtables and invaluable networking opportunities during a fast-paced 32 hours of in-depth, strip-till learning. In addition, registered attendees can sign up for an interactive 3-hour, pre-conference cover cropping workshop with cover crop pioneer Steve Groff, founder of Cover Crop Coaching.
Following is a sample of topics and speakers that will provide growers with a top-tier strip-till experience and education:
- Soil is meant to be covered. This is a foundational philosophy for Steve Groff during more than 20 years of research, experimentation and full-scale farming with cover crops. The founder of Cover Crop Coaching will help strip-tillers develop a strategic plan and understanding for how cover crops can be an organic asset to their operation. During this special 3-hour workshop on Aug. 2 — limited to 75 attendees — Groff will share proven secrets to building a foundation of success by knowing cover cropping basics, uncovering the four key mind-sets for effective cover cropping and fine-tuning methods for integrating covers crops in a strip-till system.
- For strip-tillers, building a thriving, well-rounded ecological environment starts with establishing a baseline measurement to build on. Dr. Kristen Veum, research soil scientist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Columbia, Mo., has studied assessment of soil quality in agro-ecosystems, development and refinement of soil quality indicators and application of sensor technology for soil quality assessment. She will share ongoing research and initiatives to include ways to enhance soil microbiology and a forecast on future opportunities and obstacles to increasing soil health in conservation tillage systems.
- Experimentation has always been a staple of Dean Sponheim’s cropping operation. Strip-tilling since 1999, the self-described “accidental conservationist” added strip-cropping by alternating 8 rows of strip-tilled soybeans with 8 rows of strip-tilled corn. Sponheim will break down the benefits and challenges of a strip-cropping system to include incorporation of cover crops, fertilizer application and management strategies.
- For more than a decade, Dresden, Ontario, farmer Mark Richards has adopted and adapted precision farming strategies, including implement guidance, interseeding technology and data analysis on his 3,000-acre corn, soybeans, sugarbeet and wheat operation. Richards will share proven ROI with progressive precision technologies through on-farm trials he’s conducted to measure the benefits and challenges of cutting-edge precision farming practices.
- For more than 25 years, Brandon Hunnicutt’s family has utilized some form of conservation tillage on their 2,600-acre operation near Giltner, Neb. But it wasn’t until 2006 that they committed to strip-till on the majority of their acres after primarily no-tilling and ridge-tilling corn, soybeans, seed corn and popcorn. Hunnicutt will evaluate the challenges and rewards of utilizing strip-till in an irrigated cropping system, compare and contrast different strip-till equipment setups and assess the value and drawbacks of deep-placed nutrients.
- Elk Point, S.D., strip-tiller Joey Hanson has seen the good, bad and the ugly sides of strip-till, both in his own farming operation and while custom strip-tilling more than 18,000 acres in Nebraska and South Dakota during the last 5 years. During a classroom session on Aug. 3, Hanson will share his strip-till successes — and failures — along with advice on how to avoid common mistakes made when transitioning to strip-till.
- Working as a crop physiology research specialist at the University of Illinois, Tryston Beyrer had studied phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) management, with an emphasis on the interactions between P placement, rate, source and timing in corn and soybeans in different tillage systems. During a classroom session on Aug. 3, Beyrer will share ongoing research and results of comparative fertilizer trials to include banded vs. broadcast applications, along with an analysis of proximity of fertilizer placement to a strip-till berm and its impact on yield.
- There are numerous ways to set up a strip-till rig and survive with an adequate berm, but succeeding in the practice requires an ambition to understand and adapt row units to accommodate ever-changing soil conditions. This is the philosophy Mead, Neb., farmer Kerry Knuth takes on his family’s 2,200-acre corn and soybeans operation. Strip-tilling since 2005, Knuth has experience with both fall and spring systems, negotiating the challenges and evaluating the benefits of both.
- During a general session on Aug. 3, Knuth will share his experience setting up strip-till equipment to create an ideal seedbed, along with some of the lessons learned and mistakes to avoid.
“We’ve built a diverse program of speakers based on the input of past attendees that really offers the nuts and bolts to help farmers improve their strip-till practices,” says Jack Zemlicka, managing editor of Strip-Till Strategies e-newsletter and StripTillFarmer.com. “The hallway discussions and networking between farmers and educators is invaluable and alone worth the cost of attending.”
The final 8-page program can be viewed and downloaded here. Early bird registration is available until May 29 at just $234 per person, with a special $214 rate for additional farm or family members.
The event is co-sponsored by Strip-Till Farmer and 12 industry-leading Title Sponsors, including AgroLiquid, Copperhead Ag, Dawn Equipment Co., Environmental Tillage Systems, Ingersoll, Kuhn Krause, Montag Mfg., The Andersons PureGrade, Schlagel Mfg., Thurston Mfg. (Blu-Jet), Vulcan Equipment and Yetter Mfg. Co.