More than 100 breakout sessions presented by 59 university and industry researchers and 43 full-time farmers from the southern states will be a feature of the 10th annual National Conservation Systems Cotton and Rice Conference, to be held at the Omni Houston Hotel Westside at Houston, Texas, Jan. 29-30.

“These farmers bring something that can’t be found at any other conference in the U.S. — firsthand information about the production systems used on their farms to profitably produce cotton, rice, corn, sorghum, and soybeans,” says John LaRose, chairman of the conference steering committee.

“These producers are innovators; some are even ahead of the researchers. Their techniques have been proven on large-scale operations as well as small acreage fields. They have taken ideas that researchers have developed and added innovative ideas of their own, integrating them into successful moneymaking operations.

All this expertise will be available to those who attend the conference.”

The conference is sponsored by Cotton Incorporated and US Rice Producers Association.

Ways to increase agricultural production while lowering costs will highlight the topics on the conference roster.

The conference, a production of MidAmerica Farm Publications, is co-sponsored by the University of Arkansas, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, University of Missouri, University of Tennessee, Auburn University, Texas A&M University, USDA-NRCS in Washington D.C., and USDA-ARS centers in the southern states. It also has four corporate co-sponsors: Delta and Pine Land Co., Helena Chemical Co., Horizon Ag, and RiceTec.

Ag-Media co-sponsors are Delta Farm Press and Southwest Farm Press.

In addition to the breakout sessions, attendees can participate in eight specially focused roundtable sessions, where in-depth discussions by attendees wanting to talk about specific concerns will be addressed.

Those who have an interest in the latest precision agriculture technology and applications can take part in any or all of the breakout sessions on that topic, presented by leading researchers and producers.

“This conference is a must-attend event for honing production methods, and offers farmers ways to trim inputs while boosting yields,” LaRose says. “In recent years, farmers and their landlords have found that, beyond tillage, there are many other farming resources that can be conserved through a properly designed conservation systems program.

Reducing costs

“The importance of conserving soil moisture and reducing fuel, labor, seed, chemical, and other input costs has been a key factor in economic survival for many producers. The main emphasis of the conference is reducing production costs and increasing yields in cotton, rice, corn, sorghum and soybeans through precision agriculture in its many forms.”

Addressing the conference during the opening session will be Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. The keynote speaker for the noon luncheon will be Dr. Elsa A. Murano, vice chancellor and dean of agriculture and life sciences and director, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A&M University.

Another highlight of the conference, LaRose says, will be farm bill panelists who will discuss the outlook for 2007 legislation. Experts on the panel will be Pat O’Brien, economist, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C.; Craig Brown, vice president of producer affairs, National Cotton Council, Memphis; and Louie Perry, vice president of Cornerstone Government Affairs, Washington. Following their presentations, the session there will be discussion from the floor.

“This is expected to be a very lively and informative session,” LaRose says.

“Don’t pass up this perfect opportunity to get out and communicate with the presenters and others attending the conference. It’s not often you have the chance to learn from the experts — researchers and producers — who have made these new ideas work.” For further information on the conference or to register, visit the Web site at www.nctd.net, or telephone Robin Moll at (573) 547-7212.