Ways to increase agricultural production while lowering costs will highlight the topics presented at the 10th annual National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference Jan. 29-30.

The event, held at the Omni Houston Hotel Westside in Houston, Texas, is sponsored by Cotton Incorporated and US Rice Producers Association. The conference is a production of MidAmerica Farm Publications.

The conference is co-sponsored by the University of Arkansas, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, University of Missouri, University of Tennessee, Auburn University, Texas A&M University, USDA-NRCS, and USDA-ARS centers in the Southern states.

The conference also has four corporate co-sponsors: Delta and Pine Land Co., Helena Chemical Co., Horizon Ag, and RiceTec.

Ag-Media co-sponsors are Delta Farm Press and Southwest Farm Press.

“This conference is unique with its 100-plus breakout sessions presented by 59 university and industry researchers and 43 full-time farmers from the Southern states,” says John LaRose, chairman of the conference steering committee.

“The farmers bring something to this conference that cannot be found at any other conference in the United States. The breakout sessions presented by growers will showcase the production systems used on their farms to profitably produce cotton, rice, corn, sorghum, and soybeans.

“These producers are innovators — some are even ahead of the researchers. Their techniques have been proven on large-scale operations as well as small acreage fields. They have taken ideas that researchers have developed and added innovative ideas of their own, integrating them into successful money-making farming operations.”

All this expertise will be available to those who attend the conference.

In addition to the breakout sessions, attendees can participate in one of the eight specially-focused roundtable sessions, where in-depth discussions by attendees wanting to talk about the same concerns will be addressed.

For those who have an interest in the latest precision agriculture technology and applications, attendees can take part in any or all of the breakout sessions on that topic, presented by leading researchers and producers.

“A must-attend event for honing production methods, this conference offers farmers ways to trim inputs while boosting yields,” LaRose says. “In recent years, farmers and their landlords have found that, beyond tillage, there are many other farming resources that can be conserved through a properly designed conservation systems program.

“The importance of conserving soil moisture and reducing fuel, labor, seed, chemical, and other input costs has been a key to economic survival for many producers. The main emphasis of the conference is reducing production costs and increasing yields in cotton, rice, corn, sorghum and soybeans through precision agriculture in its many forms.”

Addressing the conference during the opening session will be Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. The keynote speaker for the noon luncheon will be Elsa A. Murano, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences and director, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A&M University.

Another highlight of the conference, LaRose says, will be farm bill panelists who will discuss the outlook for 2007 legislation. Experts on the panel will be Pat O’Brien, economist, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C.; Craig Brown, vice president of producer affairs, National Cotton Council, Memphis; and Louie Perry, vice president of Cornerstone Government Affairs, Washington. Following their presentations, the session will be discussed from the floor.

“This is expected to be a very lively and informative session,” LaRose says.

“Don’t pass up this perfect opportunity to get out and communicate with the presenters and others attending the conference. It’s not often you have the chance to learn from the experts — researchers and producers — who have made these new ideas work.”

For further information on the conference or to register, go to http://www.nctd.net, or telephone Robin Moll at (573) 547-7212.