By Mark Watson, Panhandle No-Till Educator
I wanted to remind everyone to plan to attend the Panhandle No Till Partnership’s winter conference. The conference will be held on February 20th and 21st, 2013 at the Gering Civic Center in Gering, Nebraska. Please call the Upper Niobrara Resources District at 308-432-6190 to register. Walk in registrations will be taken on the 20th beginning at 8:00 a.m. Preregistration is encouraged for meal planning, so please call ahead if possible.
I think we have an excellent lineup of speakers for this year’s conference. The start of the program will focus on raising forages for cattle grazing and improving soil health. Doug Peterson, Ken Miller, and Daryl Oswald will talk about grazing cattle, raising forages on dry land cropping acres, and improving the health and performance of soils which this type of system provides.
These gentlemen have extensive knowledge in maximizing use of grasslands and integrating forages for grazing as part of a dry land and irrigated cropping system. They will talk about the types of forages they use, their high intensity grazing on grasslands, and how to implement these practices to fit our climate and soils here in this region.
I’ve known Ken and Daryl for several years and I really think the system they use in North Dakota in a 15 inch rainfall area provides a real opportunity for us here in our region. Ken and Daryl are using forages and cattle grazing as a part of their dry land cropping rotation. They use these forages to supplement their grazing rotations and rest their pastures to improve the health of these pastures.
They also use these forages and grazing as a means to improve the health and productivity of their dry land soils. Ken is also raising forages under irrigation which may have a good fit for limited irrigation in our area. These gentlemen have proven that bringing livestock back to our farms is a way to increase productivity and add profitability. I think we could adopt these same practices in our area and diversify our cropping systems and our operations to add profitability to our farms and ranches.
Jessica Johnson is the Agricultural Economist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center (PREC) in Scottsbluff. Jessica has developed budgets for dry land and irrigated no-till cropping systems. Gene Kizzire, Farm Manager for the PREC, will join Jessica to talk about the irrigated research conducted which compares no-till, strip-till, and conventional tillage practices. These presentations should give everyone a look into the research being conducted at the PREC comparing the different cropping systems along with the economics of implementing each system of crop production.
Randy Anderson is a Research Agronomist with Agricultural Research Service in Brookings, South Dakota. Randy will talk about the research he has conducted along with other research around the world that show a possible synergism effect when growing different crops in rotation.
This is a very complicated topic that could possibly link different crop rotations and sequences to benefit each crop grown in the rotation. Obviously each crop we grow and the sequence we grow them in affect the soil microorganisms, soil organic matter, and overall health of the soil. Randy’s research is looking at how these crops may benefit other crops grown in the rotation.
Dietrich Kastens will look at the economics of adopting no-till crop production systems. Dietrich and his father, Terry, have undertaken an analysis that has included market and weather variability over an extended period of time. The results of their analysis should be very interesting for those producers who are considering adopting no-till crop production as well as producers using no-till production practices.
Don Day is a well-known weather forecaster for our area and will talk about what we can expect for weather this coming year. Everyone is nervous about this year’s weather and the impacts another dry year will have on our region. Don will provide some insight into weather predictions for this coming growing season.
I really am impressed with the effort and dedication of the Panhandle No-Till Partnership to provide this conference for our area producers. I think we have an excellent group of speakers and I’m certain this conference will be well worth the time and money you invest to attend. I’ll look forward to seeing you in Gering on the 20th.