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From left, Andrea Maeda and her husband Murilo Maeda, both with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, visit with Jared Harris, USDA-ARS, at the 2018 Texas Plant Protection Conference at Bryan, Texas. The 2019 conference is set for Dec. 10-11.

TPPA Conference to focus on artificial intelligence, its impact on ag

Texas Plant Protection Association to hold 31st annual conference December 10-11

Artificial intelligence and its impact on Texas agriculture will be the focus of the 31st Texas Plant Protection Conference set for Dec.10 and 11 in Bryan.

“With this theme, we are pleased with the lineup of outstanding speakers that will kick off our two-day conference,” said TPPA President Clark Neely.

Claudia Roessler, the director for Agriculture at Microsoft Azure Global Engineering, will kick off the conference. She is responsible for developing strategic partnerships for digital innovation and agriculture technology related to the agricultural ecosystem.

Roessler will be presenting, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) – What is it and what’s its Potential in Agriculture.” The talk will cover how AI helps those in agriculture make better decisions which can drive productivity, environmentally conscious use of the world’s natural resources and improvement in food safety and quality standards.


The Market Development Manager for Blue River Technology, Shannon Pickering, will further discuss AI. His talk, “Artificial Intelligence - On-Farm Applications,” will cover Blue River’s role in machine learning and artificial intelligence space in agriculture and the many opportunities for the technology to make a big difference in how we farm in the future.

“Artificial Intelligence in Machinery Automation and Crop Input Decisions,” will be addressed by Alex Thomasson, Professor and Cotton Chair, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at Texas A & M University. He will cover the farming decision-making process using AI.

Since many decisions revolve around when, where, and how to apply inputs like seed, water, fertilizer, etc., he will discuss how computing systems and AI can guide farmers in making these decisions.

Rounding out the morning general session, Mark Kelley with Ceres Imaging will present, “Pest and Disease Management with AI – Separating Hype from Reality.” He will focus on the limitations of AI in pest and disease detection in crops.

His discussion will focus on research that demonstrates the challenges of accurate disease identification and prediction using remote sensing like imagery and probes.

After the lunch break, a Texas farmer will review some of the issues and opportunities he has experienced using AI on his farm.

Mel Brown, CEO of Mel Brown and Associates, will conclude the general session with an interactive presentation.  Conference participants will explore what they can do to increase their effectiveness in improving plant protection.  


 Following the Opening Session, Adam Hixson, TPPA vice president and program chairman announced the following breakout sessions:

  • New Technology and Chemistry
  • Pest Identification
  • Laws and Regulations
  • Cotton
  • Fertility Management
  • Grain
  • Horticulture/Turf
  • Ag Technology
  • Pasture and Rangeland

During the conference, many agribusiness firms will have displays and will be available to discuss their products for Texas agriculture. These displays will be in the same hall as the graduate student research posters and coffee breaks. Continuing Educational Units (CEUs) will be offered for certified crop advisors and the Texas Department of Agriculture.

The non-profit, professional TPPA sponsors educational conferences for those involved in production agriculture.

Looking Back

Ray Smith, TPPA Board chairman, is reminded of the evolution of the conference from over 30 years ago when it started with a theme of “Getting Down to Earth.” That first conference covered food safety, pesticide reregistration, risk taking and herbicide resistance management.

At that time AI referred to active ingredients in products. This year’s conference will discuss AI as artificial intelligence by using data from computer systems to help make better farming decisions. These conferences have been successful due to the broad support of many leaders in Texas agriculture that represent academia, extension, research, consulting, agribusiness, farmers, ranchers and regulatory entities.

For conference registration and additional information, go to or email:

Source: Texas Plant Protection Association, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.




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