Joel DeJong, Extension Field Agronomist, Northwest
New pest problems for crop producers seem to develop each year. Technology changes also alter how farmers produce crops. Keeping on the cutting edge of crop production practices is a need for crop producers and crop advisors alike. Finding effective ways to put research-based information in their hands for use in crop production is a continual challenge. Time is short for all people, so insuring that a lot of quality information is available to crop producers - in a limited time period - is more critical than ever before. But, the world of agronomy constantly changes, and producers need to find ways to keep current.
The Crop Advantage series is a statewide series for programs designed to bring the highest level of information and put them into the hands of farmers. The individual conferences held at Sheldon and Cherokee in January 2007 were designed with two keynote speakers in the morning, and three concurrent workshops over three afternoon time periods. This format gave a general session for keynote speakers which almost everyone is interested in hearing, and allows producers to be time-efficient in the afternoon by selecting workshops that are of interest to them - leaving no time periods where they have to endure topics that are not relevant to them. The speakers are mostly state Extension Specialists - leaders in their fields - so the quality of the event also helps encourage attendance. In addition, credits were given for Certified Crop Advisors - and a workshop to certify these farmers for private pesticide applicator continuing education was done at the conclusion of the day - more efficiency for the audience.
In 2007, the Crop Advantage Conferences in Sheldon and Cherokee attracted 311 paid participants. A survey was conducted of participants asking several questions. The first part of the survey given to attendees that day asked how they rated the conference that day. 102 returned surveys. The overall rating was 55% excellent, 44% good, 1% fair, and 0% poor. Obviously, participants felt they benefited from this conference. We also asked respondents to list what they learned and how it will benefit them in the future. There were 26 specific responses outlining management changes that will occur. 46% of respondents were under the age of 45 a good sign we are reaching farmers who will be in the business for a long time.
Another question asked For the acres you manage, how much, per acre, do you estimate to improve your profits because of what you learned today? Nineteen listed $0 - $5; 59 indicated $5 - $10 per acre; 29 noted an increase of $10 - $20 per acre; and 7 thought they would increase income over $20 per acre. The total acres impacted by the respondents to this survey were 312,077 acres.
Obviously, crop producers in NW Iowa need to be kept up-to-date on management issues. This conference can and does give them good research-based information for better decision making. This format is time-efficient for them, and creates an opportunity to learn.
July 3, 2007
101 Agronomic practices
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August 2, 2007
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