2015 FarmSmart

FOCUS ON SOIL HEALTH AND EMERGING TECHNOLOGY

A FULL LINE-UP of presenters has been confirmed for the 2015 FarmSmart and SoilSmart agricultural conferences.

For a third year, a full-day event will precede the main FarmSmart conference. Following in the successful footsteps of CornSmart and SoySmart, this year’s event is SoilSmart, held once again at the Manulife Sportsplex at RIM Park 2100 University Ave. E. in Waterloo on Friday, January 23, 2015.

Conservation agronomist Ray Archeluta will be the feature speaker for SoilSmart. Based at the Natural Resource Conservation Service East National Technology Service Center in Greensboro, North Carolina, Archeluta teaches soil health and the principles of agroecology throughout the country. He has lived and worked in four different states and served two years in Guatemala working as a livestock specialist in the Peace Corps. A certified professional soil scientist with the Soil Science Society of America, Archeluta has an A.S. in livestock science from North New Mexico College and a B.S. in agricultural biology from New Mexico State University.

Archeluta will help farmers and their advisors understand how to connect with the principles of good soil health, explaining how to build a system of tillage, crop rotation, and cover crop design that will work in synchrony with natural soil architecture.

The SoilSmart line-up will also include, among others, Bill Deen, associate professor in the Plant Agriculture department at the University of Guelph, Northern Ohio/Southern Michigan farmer Jeff Rasawehr, and Ontario farmers Earl Elgie and Ken Nixon.

Now in its 16th year, the main FarmSmart conference will return to Rozanski Hall at the University of Guelph on Saturday, January 24, 2015. Presentations will address current and emerging technology and innovation across a range of topics, from crop and livestock production to soil and environmental management, business, marketing, and general interest.

This year, one of two keynote speakers is Don Schiefelbein of Schiefelbein Angus Farms in Kimball, Minnesota who, along with his Dad and eight brothers, farms 4,500 acres of pasture and crops and manages 800 Angus cows and a 25,000 head feedlot. Schiefelbein is a 1989 animal science graduate of Texas A & M, is the chief financial officer, genetic program coordinator, and manager of promotion and advertising for Scheifelbein farms. He is a board member for the American Angus Association, Certified Angus Beef, Minnesota Angus Association and Angus Genetics Inc., past president of Minnesota Cattleman’s Association, past chairman of Minnesota Beef Profitability Task Force and has worked for the American Gelbvieh Association and North American Limousin Foundation.

Retail sector expert Paul Uys will provide a retailer’s view of the role of consumers in agriculture. Loblaw Companies Ltd. recruited Uys in 1987, where he became vice president of innovation, fostering several highly successful branding initiatives including President’s Choice Organics, PC Blue Menu & PC “Free From” lines. Uys was instrumental in creating and managing the Loblaw Sustainable Seafood Commitment and the “Food For The Future” responsible sourcing initiative.

Retiring after 25 years at Loblaw, Uys accepted a two-year term as senior director external with The Food Institute at the University of Guelph. In an interview with The Grocer, Uys stated that the phrase ‘from farm to fork’ should be changed to ‘from fork to farm’, recognizing that issues like diminishing biodiversity, water security, and our ability to harvest natural capital are now driving consumer trends.

Chris Van Esbroeck of the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority and Merrin Macrae, associate professor in the department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Waterloo, will team up to discuss their field-scale studies looking at managing phosphorus losses through tiles and surface run-off.

Joining the FarmSmart line-up from Brazil, Nadiel Pacheco Kowalski will draw from his background in agribusiness and corporate communications to provide an international perspective on agronomy. His company, NPK Consultoria Empresarial, provides agricultural tours to and from Brazil with a clientele that includes companies, universities, farmers and co-operatives. Pacheco Kowalski will present an overview of the Brazilian agribusiness system, where farmers in the shadow of Amazon rainforest contribute to feeding the world.

Here in Ontario, farmers continue to struggle with managing cover crops but professor Bill Curran will help by sharing his insight from his research and extension work at the department of Plant Science at Penn State University, where he studies weed biology, integrated weed management, weed management in conservation tillage systems and managing cover crops. In one of two sessions at FarmSmart, Curran will present the latest findings of his multi-state project that has developed the Penn State Cover Crop Interseeder, designed to establish cover crops despite late harvest and short seasons. A second session will further explore weed control in cover crops.

For updates, program details, and registration information check the FarmSmart website at www.farmsmartconference.com.

FarmSmart is a partnership of the Golden Horseshoe and Heartland Regional Soil and Crop Improvement Associations, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the Ontario Agriculture College (OAC) of the University of Guelph, the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA), the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) and various agribusiness sponsors.

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