Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Conservation Tillage Conference is set for Feb. 18-19

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 02/24/2014 11:27 PM

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. — University of Minnesota climatologist Mark Seeley will open the Conservation Tillage Conference in St. Cloud.

The event is Feb. 18-19 in the Holiday Inn and Suites.

Seeley makes weather understandable, said Jodi DeJong-Hughes, a regional University of Minnesota Extension educator who organizes the conference. Seeley will outline what has been happening in Minnesota's climate during the past decades.

From there, speakers will address specific issues.

Want to try strip till? Dick Wolkowski, University of Wisconsin Extension soil scientist, has it covered in Strip Till 101. Have concerns about weed management in conservation tillage? Jeff Gunsolus, University of Minnesota Extension weed scientist, will address the topic. What about drainage? Matt Helmers, Extension water quality engineer from Iowa State University and Dan Bot, a farmer from west central Minnesota, will give a tag-team presentation. Helmers will talk about considerations for drainage design while Bot will discuss what he's done on his farm.

The conference attracts around 200 people each year, DeJong-Hughes said. People come from the five-state area and beyond.

Early bird registration, through Feb. 4, is $125 for both days. After Feb. 4, the cost is $155. Attendees may also choose to attend one day only. Cost to attend Feb. 18 only is $95 and cost to attend Feb. 19 only is $65.

In addition to the speakers, DeJong-Hughes said she makes sure there is time for attendees to talk to one another and to the speakers.

Those conversations are very important, she said, because people learn so much from each other. It's a three-legged stool bringing together government and university research, companies with supporting products and services and farmer experience. She pairs farmer speakers with researcher speakers whenever possible.

Other speakers include:

•Shannon Osborne, a research agronomist, and Michael Lehman, a research microbiologist, from the ARS lab in Brookings, S.D.

• Marion Calmer, CEO of Calmer Corn Heads of Illinois. He will talk on combine settings for maximum residue management, narrow row corn and profitable population responses in corn and soybeans.

• Ken Rulon, a farmer from Arcadia, Ind., who has 25 landlords. He will talk on how to turn conservation tillage into an asset when dealing with landlords. Rulon received the Distinguished Agricultural Alumnus Award from Purdue University.

• George Rehm, a retired University of Minnesota Extension soil scientist, who is active with Minnesota Discovery Farms.

• Manufacturers. There are more than 25 exhibitors with products and services related to conservation tillage.

The closing keynote will be given by Blake Vince, a fifth-generation farmer from Merlin, Ontario, and Nuffield Scholarship recipient. Vince traveled around the world looking at different farming systems. He used conventional tillage before moving to no till and then to strip till and cover crops.

He is director of the Innovative Farmers Association of Ontario and an independent sales representative for DuPont Pioneer.

Nuffield is an organization that awards individuals the opportunity to view developing agricultural sector leaders and innovators of the future.

There are several ways to register for the Conservation Tillage Conference.

Call Mary Jo Fox at 320-235-0726, ext. 2001, email or register online with a credit card at