Expectations for CTIC’s 2013 Conservation in Action Tour, held July 9-10, were high, and participants were not disappointed. Registration and check-in went smoothly considering this year’s attendance reached almost 300, which is the largest crowd ever. The theme for this year’s tour was “Community 4 Conservation” – a great theme that reflects our communal responsibility to the environment.
I have to admit that it’s rare for me to mingle in a crowd this large where issues related to agriculture are being discussed and not know a single person. The refreshing part is that I was able to meet many growers, industry representatives, and USDA agency representatives who attended this event to discuss the conservation of our precious natural resources and the practices we can all use to achieve these goals.
The tour focused on three concepts that we must consider to keep our crop production sustainable for years to come:
- Soil health. The first tour stop focused on soil health. The demonstration on aerial seeding of cover crops into standing corn prior to harvest was a highlight considering the rainy morning we encountered. The other interesting demonstration was the soil pit, where the benefits of cover crops and other soil health concepts were brought to life as we examined the depths of the soil profile and listened to a soil scientist explain what was going on.
- Nutrient management. On the way to the second tour stop, the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. Nutrient management was the focus and we were presented with local grower data demonstrating the best ways to use the 4R approach to nutrient stewardship. Timing, placement, source, and rate of fertilizers were studied for the best crop impact and economic return to the growers. I was excited to see that Accomplish LM was used in some of the trials. In addition, many equipment manufactures had fertilizer placement implements on display, and there was even a demonstration on injecting hog manure using an umbilical cord system.
- Water management. The last stop on the tour focused on water management. A live demonstration on how drain tiles are installed was very interesting to me, being from the southern region of the US. We also saw how new technology to monitor nutrient levels in the tile water was important for keeping the watershed healthy for generations to come.
At the end of the tour we all gathered under the tent for some food and beverages as the tour staff and hosts handed out door prizes and awards to participants and sponsors. I am looking forward to next year’s tour and hope to be a part of a record crowd in 2014. I commend the CTIC staff for putting together a great event!