Farmers across the Mid-South will have an excellent opportunity to learn more about a wide variety of approaches to conservation tillage by attending the fifth annual National Conservation Tillage Cotton & Rice Conference to be held Jan. 24-25 at the Grand Casino Convention Center at Tunica, Miss.

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.

“The conference will provide the opportunity for productive interaction between farmers and researchers on topics related to more efficient crop production for improved cost control,” says John LaRose, publisher of the Digest and MidAmerica Farmer Grower.

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

Thirty-two farmers from five states will outline their successes in implementing a variety of conservation tillage practices on their cotton-rice-soybean-cotton farms. Additionally, there will be presentations by 39 researchers and Extension agents from seven states that have conducted large-scale trials addressing a variety of conservation tillage problems.

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 construed 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.

“Herbicide application for fallow control has become more feasible in recent years because of price reductions for certain chemicals,” he says. “The twofold run-up of diesel prices in the past 36 months also made chemical fallow more attractive than ever.”

This year's conference will offer presentations on 73 program topics, LaRose says, and farmers who attend will have as many as 18 different presentations to choose from each hour.

Additionally, two keynote general session speakers will offer their views on the current agricultural situation. They are Dennis R. DeLaughter, professional farm manager, investment advisor, and commodity broker, and Darrel Ray, director of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. There will also be a number of presentations on precision agriculture, corn/soybean production, soil compaction, and irrigation systems designed for use with conservation tillage.

Tommy Valco, USDA Agricultural Research Service cotton technology transfer and education coordinator, Stoneville, Miss., will be moderator for the program.

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

Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee attendees will be able to receive state pesticide recertification credits and certified crop consultants will earn CEUs for participation in the conference.

Academic co-sponsors for the event are the University of Arkansas, Mississippi State University, the University of Tennessee, Texas A&M University, Auburn University, and the University of Missouri. Technical co-sponsors are USDA-NRCS; USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Laboratory, Mid-South area; USDA-ARS Subtropical Agriculture Research Center, Weslaco, Texas; and the USDA-ARS National Sedimentation Laboratory, Oxford, Miss.

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