Crop Advantage Series

January-March 2002

Jim Fawcett , crop specialist

Agriculture is rapidly changing, with new technologies being introduced every year. Crop producers must keep up with the changing technologies in order to stay competitive. In recent years ISU Extension has put more effort towards providing education for agricultural professionals than towards crop producers. For the past several years, some regional Integrated Crop Management (ICM)conferences and other regional crop meetings for crop producers have been held around the state, but there has been no effort to try to coordinate the programs. With the budget crisis, there was a need to try to recover costs associated with educational conferences for crop producers.

To try to better coordinate agronomy programs around the state, an agronomy program planning committee was formed consisting of 2 crop specialists (including myself), 1 specialist each from ag engineering, ag economics, agronomy, entomology, pest management and the environment, and plant pathology, as well as 2 county extension education directors. Committee members included both field and state staff. The first effort of the committee was to try to provide regional ICM conferences around the state that targeted crop producers and provided some cost recovery dollars for travel expenses and salary savings.
Eleven "crop advantage series" conferences were held around the state in January and February of 2002. Some of these were a continuation of an annual ICM conference and some were first time conferences. To show a unified effort, all of the conferences featured Mike Duffy and Elwynn Taylor. All conferences used the same brochure that was printed in the Linn County Extension Office and customized for each location. Breakout workshops were offered at each site, which featured topics of interest in each location. Fees were charged to cover travel expenses, brochure expenses, county office expenses, and salary savings. A web-based proceedings, produced by Brent Pringnitz, increased the visibility of ISU Extension, giving the world access to information that was presented at all of the conferences.

Attendance at the 11 conferences ranged from about 25 to over 150, with an average attendance of about 85. All of those that answered an evaluation (N=28) done at the Marshalltown conference (one of the first-time conferences) rated the conference as good or excellent, and all wanted the conference to be held again next year and would recommend it to others. The majority also indicated that they would adopt new practices as a result of training received at the conference. The fees at the conferences paid for all of the travel expenses, brochure expenses, most county expenses, with dollars left over for salary savings. The web-based proceedings contains links to other ISU Extension sites, increasing the visibility and impact of ISU Extension.Crop producers are faced with new weed management decisions each year with the introduction of new products, new herbicide resistant crops, and changing weed problems. In the more competitive environment, it is crucial for farmers to find the most cost-effective ways to manage weeds in corn and soybeans in order to maintain profitability. After several years of using Roundup Ready Soybeans, weed populations have declined in some fields, providing an opportunity to decrease herbicide costs in the following year of corn by reducing herbicide rates.


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