The effects of the biofuel industry on agricultural producers will be one of several featured topics at the 46th Blackland Income Growth Conference Jan. 15-16 at the Waco Convention Center.

Dr. Bill McCutchen, associate director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, will give an in-depth look at the biofuel industry. He will also spotlight ongoing bioenergy research conducted by Experiment Station scientists.

Other featured topics include cattle feeding efficiency as it relates to escalating production prices, as well as horticulture, beef, grain, cotton, forage, wildlife and family issues. The annual B.I.G. Conference is one of the most extensive agricultural production conferences of the year, said Rebecca Parker, Texas Cooperative Extension regional program director for agriculture and natural resources.

"We're zeroing in on some important topics that will be of interest to everyone," Parker said. "Our goal each year is to bring in the most knowledgeable speakers available who can offer homeowners, landowners, farmers and ranchers the best ideas to enhance production in this region."

Registration for the Jan. 15 sessions will be $15 per person for the entire day. Lunch is included.

The sessions will also award Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units, Beef Quality Assurance and Certified Crop Advisor credit. Producers are encouraged to download the brochure at http://dallas.tamu.edu/BIG to see specific CEU allocations and sessions for Jan. 15-16.

Gene Stallings, a Texas A&M University System Regent, will serve as luncheon speaker on Jan. 15. Stallings, of Paris, is known for his inspirational speeches re-enforcing family values and strength of character.

Stallings has served as head football coach at Texas A&M and later coached in the National Football League with the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis (now Arizona) Cardinals.

The highlight of the awards luncheon will be the presentation of 10 scholarships to Blackland high school seniors, Parker said.

AT A GLANCE:

The following is a list of concurrent sessions scheduled Jan. 15-16 as part of the 46th Blackland Income Growth Conference at the Waco Convention Center:

* 8:30 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.: The Family Issues Summit is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Pre-registration is $20 which includes lunch. This section will concentrate on the challenges of the changing family, volunteerism, cyberspace safety, childhood obesity, and aging and memory. Mail pre-registration to Julie Gardner, Box 149, Gatesville, TX, 76528, by Jan. 7. Make checks payable to: D-8 TEAFCS. Participants may also register at the door for a $25 fee.

* 9 a.m. - noon: Grain session topics include factors affecting nitrogen loss; plant development and nutrient usage at different growth stages; the use of foliar fungicides in corn; and a crop update for wheat producers.

* 9 a.m. - noon: Horticulture topics include vegetable gardening 101 and "How to Lower Your Water Bill" through drip irrigation and water management.

* 9 a.m. - noon: Beef topics include how feed efficiency relates to genetics, stocking rates and feed efficiency, rainfall indexes and upcoming Risk Management Agency programs, and how biofuels will affect the livestock industry.

* 2-4:30 p.m.: Cotton topics include management of Roundup Ready resistance in cotton, economic benefits of precision agriculture, boll weevil eradication update, and innovations in harvesting equipment.

* 2-4:30 p.m.: Forage topics include understanding Blackland soils, grazing systems, range brush control, rainfall index and upcoming Risk Management Agency programs, and weed control for forages.

* 2-4:30 p.m.: Wildlife topics include integrated management of the farm pond resource, managing wildlife in conjunction with traditional agricultural practices, and aging deer on the hoof.

A meeting of the Blackland Corn and Grain Producers Association at 2 p.m. is also scheduled.

Concurrent sessions scheduled for Jan. 16 are:

*9 a.m. - 3 p.m.: A pesticide license recertification training workshop will be offered for $30. Topics include fire ant control in pastures, bee identification and control, pasture weed control, brush and prickly pear control, drift management and sprayer calibration. This workshop is appropriate for TDA license holders needing to acquire CEUs to renew their license. Call 254-757-5180 to register (McLennan County Extension Office - Master Gardeners).

* 9 a.m.: The private applicator training and testing workshop is for landowners wanting a TDA applicator license for their own land. Registration is $35; information is available from the Coryell County Extension Office at 254-865-2414.

* 8 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.: The Risk Management Practices in Capitalizing on Agricultural Diversification Development Course will feature discussion on developing and using a business plan, legalities, business licensing and contracts, as well as human and personal risks.

"Successful Financing of New and Existing Businesses" will focus on seeking and obtaining funding and managing debt to start. Networking opportunities and breakout sessions will also be offered.

Pre-registration for this course is $12, or $20 at the door. Registration includes materials and lunch. Call 254-968-1984 for registration information, or mail by Jan. 10 to Beth Underwood, Box T-0040, Stephenville, TX 76402.

For a complete brochure with program sessions and speakers, visit http://dallas.tamu.edu/BIG.