Monday, January 17, 2011

19th Annual National NoTill Conference

The number nine to me is like the power ball number that was worth millions of dollars recently. This corn was planted the 19th of April. The 19th is my birthday. 49 is my birth year. The 19th annual National NoTill Conference as no different. It was a powerful conference.

We enjoyed another excellent NNTC in Cincinnati last week with a record crowd for our location. I think Des Moines brought in more people one time in 19 years. The NoTill Farmer staff did another bang up job putting on this conference for standing room only crowds.

From the opening talk from my friend Tom Oswald to the last talk by my friend Jack Maloney, every speaking slot was full of good information. I can’t say there was any hot breaking news this year but there was more information and evidence on the things we have been talking about from seed treatments to cover crops.

I explained how treat my treated seed and how I use soil amendments and micronutrients. Fertilizing is one thing but every decision we make impacts how our crops can or can’t take up the nutrients available. With rising fertilizer costs, there is much interest in releasing more nutrients from our soils.

I raised some eyebrows when I said that I think every seed company needs to be prepared to put whatever treatment we want right on the seed with these new polymers available. I shouldn’t have to treat my treated seed; it should all be sealed on pristine seed for the price we are paying. The industry IS coming around to this notion as it outperforms other seed.

One question that came up was all about glyphosate. How much is it limiting nutrient uptake and increasing disease pressure and how do we handle or prevent resistant weeds. Resistant weeds are becoming a larger problem each year as most farmers use this effective herbicide to the point of over use. Lots of discussion was shared on these topics.

I found three farmers who forgot more about the air drills than I understand. I see right now we need a full rebuild with some modifications or replace the drill. Robert Adamic in Michigan, Allen Dean in Ohio and Mel Gerber in Missouri understand the John Deere air drill better than I do. Here is the value of the conference that can pay huge dividends even above the other great topics and speakers.

Dr. Ray Weil of Maryland gave a real good primer on soil fauna and his student Joel Gruver at Western Illinois University put numbers and explanation to soil biology and nutrient release. I never saw a talk I wasn’t interested in, some just more than others. Every speaker from presentation to classroom to round table explained their beliefs and raised good questions.

The woman’s program was excellent; I wish LuAnn could have been there for all of them. My tax accountant Donna Dalton and my old friend Chris Bruynis of Ohio State gave really informational talks, well worth the price of admission to the conference.

I hope we can all meet again next year in St. Louis for the 20th annual conference. Put it on your calendar now and just send in your payment so you won’t forget or put something less important in front of it.

This conference has answered more questions than any conference I have ever been part of.

Good job guys!

Ed Winkle

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