The University of Minnesota Extension is hosting its 15th annual Conservation Tillage Conference on Dec. 17-18 at the Holiday Inn in St. Cloud, Minn.
The event provides presentations and research on all aspects of improving soil productivity and soil health, including farmer panels, hands-on demonstrations and the perennial favorite — table talks. More than 300 farmers, industry leaders, speakers and exhibitors attend CTC each year.
The CTC will feature the following keynote speakers:
David Lobb, a professor of landscape ecology at the University of Manitoba. Lobb’s research and education focus on soil erosion and sedimentation, soil and water conservation, and sustainable agriculture. His lab is the largest in Canada and the second-largest in the world for the assessment of soil erosion and sedimentation using radionuclides and other methods. This area of research is known as fingerprinting. Lobb is internationally recognized for his research in tillage erosion.
Seth Watkins, an Iowa farmer. Watkins believes conservation is a long-term investment in the land and sees no conflict between profitability and environmental sustainability. His Pinhook Farm features rotational grazing, restricted wildlife areas, riparian buffers, wetlands, integrated pest management, prescribed burning, windbreak restoration, no-till, cover crops, terraces, prairie strips and restoration, and late-season calving.
Mitchell Hora and Zach Johnson of Field Work. Johnson is known as the “Millennial Farmer." Field Work is a podcast hosted by two farmers — Hora and Johnson — that provides space for frank, realistic discussions about the benefits and challenges of sustainable agriculture. The two explore the successes and challenges farmers experience as they adopt new practices without greenwashing over the difficulties.
Breakout sessions over the two-day conference feature presentations on residue management, effective use of cover crops, managing soil properties, weed and pest management, and soil biology and fertility in conservation tillage systems — all the things producers need to know to improve their existing system or to get started with reducing their tillage system.
Table talks, one of CTC’s most popular sessions, allows attendees to rotate from table to table to get their questions answered directly from the experts in small group discussions. These sessions are dedicated to both farmer-educator and industry topics for a well-rounded approach to delivering information.
Hands-on demonstrations offer participants an impactful way to learn about different soils across the landscape, methods to increase water infiltration and the power of soil biology. This year, there will be five demonstration stations.
The most well-attended component of CTC is its farmer panel session. Each year, farmers are chosen with different backgrounds and experiences in soil health principles. The panel discusses the benefits of improved soil and the challenges they may experience.
Participants have expressed that they greatly value the farmer panel session and look forward to it each year.
Additional topics featured at this year’s conference include:
- reduced till, no-till and cover crop strategies straight from veteran farmers
- proven cover crop strategies to anchor nutrients and soil, and manage moisture extremes
- economics of soil management systems
- weed species shift and control
- nutrient management in high-residue systems
- beginning and advanced strip-till sessions
More than 20 exhibitors will be on hand promoting equipment, technology and services directly related to improving soil health.
Registration and additional information, such as lodging, is available at z.umn.edu/DIGtheCTC.