Field prep is key for S.D. Ag Xchange in the field conference

Jun 22, 2012
by WLJ
Field prep is key for S.D. Ag Xchange in the field conference

While planning for most educational conferences involves Power Point slides and sound checks; preparation for the In The Field Conference began early this spring with field prep, planting and fertility treatments.

Held in Pierre, SD, June 28-29, during South Dakota’s newest farm show, South Dakota Ag Xchange, the In The Field Conference is oneof-a-kind. It connects growers with state and national experts in test plots designed to show the most pressing issues concerning South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers.

“A big part of crop yield is how the plant gets started. AgXchange will take producers to the field and show them the management issues that involve planting and emergence that lead to stand establishment,” said Greg Geisler, CEO of VerticalXchange, a national event service company. “One of the critical differences between AgXchange and other farm shows is that we are specifically focusing on management opportunities early in the growing year. Other shows focus on harvest when, frankly, it’s too late for management practices to make a difference. Producers will be able to see crops in earlier stages of development at this show.”

In addition to the field plots at the AgXchange grounds, farmers will also be invited to travel to the Dakota Lakes Field Station to see a full range of crops currently in university research trials.

“We saw a need to develop a conference where farmers and ranchers could see firsthand what the specialists

were talking about—more than lecture or photos—these workshops are held in a test plot designed by the speaker to reinforce their growing tips. Growers can actually pull plants up by their roots and inspect them if they wish,” said Geisler.

Presenting the workshop Fertilizer: Placement Timing = Profitability, Fred Below travels the country educating farmers. The professor of Crop Physiology at University of Illinois Crop Science says he’s excited about this unique opportunity to present in a living environment.

“This is a unique opportunity. One that is not easily developed and takes an enormous amount of advanced planning and coordination,” Below said. “I’m out to show farmers how to grow 300-bushel corn. It takes a lot of synergies to accomplish this. Farmers need to plan for high yields. Teaching in a test plot managed as I suggest will help farmers figure out what management techniques they need to change to increase yields.”

Phil Needham agrees. “I do a lot of seminars where I stand in front of a screen. To have this opportunity to go out into a field and actually show farmers what I’m talking is much better,” says the owner of Needham Ag Technologies who consults with wheat growers across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Needham helps growers discover ways they can improve their management practices to increase wheat yields.

“The ideas and principles I will discuss are based upon research I’ve

done across the country and in South Dakota. If growers understand the components of yield, they can figure out what areas they can improve to increase yields and profit,” Needham said. “I work with some South Dakota wheat growers who, once they realized what changes they needed to make, went from producing 40 bushels an acre to producing 80 bushels an acre.”

Below and Needham will be joined by South Dakota State University (SDSU) faculty, SDSU Extension staff, and industry experts from across the nation for the twoday conference.

Geisler says workshop topics were determined by South Dakota farmers and ranchers. The SDSU Extension and industry leaders heading up the workshops were hand selected based on producer feedback.

In The Field Conference is co-sponsored by SDSU Extension.

“We surveyed more than 500 South Dakota agriculture producers to discover what information they felt would benefit their operations and strengthen their bottom line. We then worked closely with SDSU to discover the best SDSU Extension staff and national industry experts,” Geisler said.

As part of its new cost recovery model, SDSU Extension will provide many speakers at the event and will receive a portion of the conference pass revenue to offset speaker costs.

For more information on the In Field Conference, visit or call 952-736-9360.