"Water Sustainability in Agriculture" is the theme of the twenty-fourth annual meeting of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council, which will be held June 11-13 at the Fayetteville Town Center. The conference's hosts are the University of Arkansas System of Agriculture and the UA Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

The NABC was founded in 1988 and is a consortium of 36 leading agricultural research and teaching universities, government agencies and institutions. It is based at the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

"Agriculture is by far the largest consumer of fresh water on the planet, and is fully dependent on a sustainable supply of quality water," said Ken Korth, conference program committee co-chair and UA professor of plant pathology.

"It is critical that agricultural researchers, food and fiber producers, and agriculture-related industries are fully aware of the many facets of their activities that impact water sustainability. These issues will be explored at the conference."

Registration for the conference is available here.

Early regular registration before May 15 is $250; early student registration is $150.

The keynote address will be delivered by Marc Andreini, research fellow at the University of Nebraska Daugherty Water for Food Institute, on water management in Africa. Other topic areas and scheduled speakers include:

Agricultural adaptations to water needs

  • International perspectives on water issues -- Hank Venema, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg.
  • Breeding for drought resistance -- Dave Warner, Pioneer Hi-Bred International.
  • Perennial crops and sustainable agriculture -- Wes Jackson, president, The Land Institute.
  • Transgenic approaches to drought tolerance -- Randy Allen, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, Oklahoma State University.

Water Management and Policy

  • Consumer responses and programs -- Richard Moore, executive director of interdisciplinary environmental sciences, The Ohio State University.
  • Watershed protection programs -- Deanna Osmond, professor of watershed, soil fertility and nutrient management, North Carolina State University.
  • Agriculture nutrient cycling -- Helen Jarvie, principal scientist, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, U.K.
  • Water quality and farmer programs -- Andrew Sharpley, professor of crop, soil, and environmental sciences, University of Arkansas.
  • Perspectives of a rice farmer -- Ray Vester, Arkansas Rice Board member and chair of USA Rice Federation Environmental Regulatory Committee. 

Agriculture’s role in environmental and consumer issues

  • Corporate movements toward sustainability -- Sarah Lewis, The Sustainability Consortium, University of Arkansas.
  • Environmental impacts of agriculture -- Suzy Friedman, Environmental Defense Fund.
  • Water sustainability in the poultry industry -- Kevin Igli, Tyson Foods senior vice president and chief environmental, health and safety officer.
  • Water and agriculture in the Mississippi Delta -- Michael Sullivan, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Preparing for future challenges

  • Economics of resource protection -- David Zilberman, University of California-Berkeley Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  • Optimizing water delivery -- Reagan Waskom, director of Colorado Water Institute, Colorado State University.
  • National efforts in sustainability -- Jed Colquhoun, University of Wisconsin.

More information is at the conference website here.