If you're exploring new production methods and considering conservation tillage alternatives, then you'll want to make plans to attend the sixth annual National Conservation Tillage Cotton and Rice Conference.

Farmers across the South will have an excellent opportunity to learn more about a wide variety of approaches to conservation tillage at the conference to be held Jan. 23-24 at the Radisson Hotel Astrodome, Houston, Texas.

Delta Farm Press is joining with the National Conservation Tillage Digest as a co-sponsor of the event, along with a number of academic and technical co-sponsors.

“Our objective is to provide responsible and helpful information on conservation-tillage cotton and rice production to help farmers adopt these cost-saving and time-saving procedures into their operations,” says John LaRose, publisher of the Digest and MidAmerica Farmer Grower.

“The conference will feature a mix of both researchers and producers as program speakers, and will provide a complete picture of conservation tillage — the challenges, the surprises, and the rewards.”

He says the event will provide the opportunity for productive interaction between farmers and researchers on topics related to more-efficient crop production for improved cost control.

“With the continuing changes in equipment technology, weed chemistry, crop genetics, and pest and nutrient management, this conference is helpful for the novice conservation tillage farmer as well as the experienced pro.”

Thirty-eight farmers from several Southern states will outline their successes in implementing a variety of conservation tillage practices on their cotton, rice, and soybean farms. Additionally, there will be presentations by 42 researchers and Extension agents who have conducted large-scale trials addressing a variety of conservation tillage problems.

This year's conference will offer presentations on 80 program topics, LaRose says, and farmers who attend will have as many as 22 different presentations to choose from each hour, including cotton, corn, rice, sorghum, peanuts, and precision farming.

Additionally, two keynote general session speakers will offer their views on the current agricultural situation. They are Susan Combs, Texas Agriculture Commissioner, and Jim Moseley, deputy secretary of agriculture, USDA, Washington. Tommy Valco, cotton technology transfer and education coordinator, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Stoneville, Miss., will be moderator for the conference.

“This wide array of presentations is sure to offer topics of interest to farmers from every area of the Mid-South, LaRose says.

In the face of escalating costs for farm machinery, tillage equipment, labor, and energy, many farmers are taking a hard look at reducing the amount of tillage during the annual crop production cycle, LaRose says.

“While the term ‘conservation tillage’ was initially conserved to be tillage practices that conserved soil by reducing the potential for wind and water erosion, there has been an increasing realization that it greatly reduces costs for fuel, labor, and other inputs.

“More and more farmers and their landlords are finding that many farming resources can be conserved through a properly designed conservation tillage program.”

The importance of conserving soil moisture and reducing energy and labor-related costs has been a key concern in economic survival for farmers that has led many to adapt conservation tillage practices, says Mike Gonitzke, publisher of Delta Farm Press. “We are pleased to join with the National Conservation Tillage Digest and other co-sponsors in helping to disseminate this important information to farmers.”

LaRose notes that many farmers have replaced tillage trips across the field through the use of environmentally friendly chemical fallow programs for controlling noxious weeds and unwanted grasses that sap soil moisture and rob crop yields, as well as producing seeds to continue the weed cycle.

For further information about the conference or registration details, please telephone Robin Moll at 573-547-7212.