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Top 10 topics being discussed in ag engineering circles

As a card-carrying member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE), I recently received a reminder to register for the group’s Annual International Meeting, held this year in Louisville, KY. This is the place where the rocket scientists of agriculture gather in meeting halls to discuss such esoteric subjects as “A bienzyme electrochemical biosensor coupled with immunomagnetic separation for rapid detection of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 in food samples.”

I’m not an engineer. So most of what I am able to glean from these meetings is what brand of smartphone the guy sitting next to me is using, the location of the nearest restroom, and the dessert choices after each day’s luncheon. But I’ve been told that the topics discussed there are the precursors to what products and technologies will be adopted on farms two to four years from now.

Rather than trying to sit in on the more than 1,200 technical presentations given throughout that week, I asked Darrin Drollinger, ASABE executive director, to give us the high points of what will be discussed at this year’s meeting. “The vast majority of ASABE’s 200 technical committees will convene in open meetings that support activity on such topics as water usage, precision agriculture, equipment safety, precision agriculture, regulatory impacts on agri-business, energy conservation and production, erosion control, and bioenergy production,” Drollinger says.

So, here’s Drollinger’s top 10 list that will spur the next generation of products for the farm:

  1. Impacts of greenhouse gas legislation
  2. Climate change and variability impacts on land and water resources
  3. Manure foaming in deep pits: Cause and solutions
  4. Conservation tillage systems and controlled traffic
  5. Rating crop dryer performance
  6. New frontiers in biorefinery
  7. Challenges in sustainable utilization of global water resources
  8. Stormwater pollution — prevention, monitoring and modeling
  9. 75th anniversary of the Small Watershed Program: History, dam rehabilitation, and trends
  10. The future of extension engineering

For more information about the 2011 ASABE Annual International Meeting, visit


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