Joel DeJong, Crops Field Specialist, Northwest Iowa
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 state-wide series for programs designed to bring the highest level of information and put them into the hands of farmers. The individual conference held at Sheldon was 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 give 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. A similar conference has been done at Sheldon for about 10 years - and attendance has been around 100 to 130 for most of the years. Last year attendance went to over 250, so an additional site was needed and added for Cherokee.
In 2005, the Crop Advantage Conferences in Sheldon and Cherokee attracted 356 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. 232 returned surveys. Of these surveys, 227 agreed that this information was useful for their business/farm operation (8 were undecided). 88% agreed that this conference met their needs and was worth the registration fee - only three people disagreed with that statement. The overall rating was 45% excellent, 53% good, 2% 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 over 130 individual responses to this question listing specifically what they learned.
As part of the survey we asked who had attended the previous year. 125 indicated they had. So, we asked what kinds of changes they made in their operation that increased profits as a result of the conference in 2004. Examples of changes included aphid management, improved scouting, reduced N rates, less tillage, lower soybean seeding rates, and changing planting dates. The next question asked how much per acre it increased profits and on how many acres. Total acres reported with increased profitability was 24,490, with a range of $4 to $30 per acre increased profits from this conference. Most noted a $10/acre increase in profits.
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.
August 29, 2005
142 -- Integrated Pest Management/Integrated Crops Management
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