By MICHELE F. MIHALJEVICH
AUBURN, Ind. — The Tri-State Farming Conservation Expo is moving back to Indiana for 2013 and its new venue will have more space for equipment exhibits. The 12th annual Expo will be March 1 at the National Military History Center in Auburn.
After a couple of years in Williams County, Ohio, this return to the Hoosier State allows planners to bring back Indiana sponsors who didn’t follow the move east, said Jennifer B. Thum, watershed project manager with the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). With the move and an opportunity to view more equipment, an attendance of 250-300 is expected, she said.
“Iron always attracts farmers,” added Greg Lake, Allen County SWCD director. “The types of technology and demonstrations we’ll showcase will be new to a lot of producers.”
Equipment to be displayed includes cover crop seeders, sprayers and possibly a new generation planter, Lake noted.
The theme of this year’s Expo, sponsored by the St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative (SJRWI), is “Healthy Soils, Higher Profits, Clean Water.” The various speakers and seminars will give attendees a chance to learn the benefits of no-till and alternative practices such as vertical tillage and strip-till, said Thum, also the event’s coordinator.
Three roundtable discussions are planned: one on precision ag equipment, another on improving soil health through the use of cover crops and soil amendments and a third on maximizing soil health with improved water management. The discussions will feature farmers, equipment representatives and conservation and natural resources officials.
In addition to the roundtable discussions, other seminars will include information on improving drainage water management, Indiana’s new fertilizer rules and the latest on herbicide-resistant weeds.
During the last session of the day, Fred Whitford, coordinator of Purdue University’s pesticide programs, will give an update on changes to Department of Transportation regulations. He will also discuss the best ways to safely remove stuck equipment.
Lake hopes farmers understand they will need to have patience as they work to improve their soil’s health. “It’s not an overnight fix,” he stated. “But by using cover crops with no-till, that will definitely accelerate the change. They should see significant changes after two to three years.”
It’s frustrating that not all farmers understand the importance of soil health, Lake added. “In an intensive tillage system, soil health is affected,” he said. “(Some farmers) are of the opinion that their practices aren’t harmful. Someone is going to have to prove to them that they are having an impact."
Tickets to the Expo are $20 and are available by contacting the SJRWI at 260-484-5848 or going online to www.sjrwi.org
A list of sponsors and exhibitors who may have free tickets is available on the website. Tickets are also available through the SWCDs in Allen, DeKalb, Noble and Steuben counties in Indiana, Hillsdale County, Mich., and Williams County, Ohio.
While registration is available at the Expo, the organizers would like to have a head count several days in advance for planning purposes. The ticket price includes lunch.
Continuing education credits for private and commercial applicators and certified crop advisors will be available for $10 each. The Expo begins at 7:30 a.m. with registration, and is scheduled to end at 3:30 p.m.