Farmers seeking ways to trim input costs while boosting yields will want to make plans to attend the sixth annual National Conservation Tillage Cotton and Rice Conference Jan. 23-24.

The event, sponsored by Mid-America Farm Publications and co-sponsored by Farm Press Publications, will be held at the Radisson Astrodome Hotel at Houston, Texas.

“Reducing production costs while increasing yields for cotton, rice, corn, sorghum, and peanuts is the main focus of the conference,” notes John LaRose, publisher, Mid-America Farm Publications. “More and more farmers are finding this conference a must-attend event to help them hone their production methods.”

While the term “conservation-tillage” was originally thought of as a practice to conserve soil by reducing potential for wind and water erosion, LaRose said producers quickly found it also offered additional benefits: reductions in fuel, labor, and other input costs.

“More recently, farmers and their landlords have learned that a great many other agricultural resources can be conserved through a properly-designed conservation-tillage program,” he says. “With low commodity prices and increased competition in the global marketplace, the importance of conserving soil moisture and reducing fuel, labor, and other input costs have been key to the economic survival of many farmers.”

Mike Gonitzke, publisher, Farm Press Publications, says “Conservation-tillage has become a way of life for thousands of Sunbelt farmers, and they're constantly searching for new ideas and techniques to refine their operations. This conference is one of the best sources of information about conservation-tillage methods for these key crops.”

Opening speaker for the 2003 conference will be Texas Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman has also been invited to speak.

“The conference is producer friendly,” LaRose notes. “There will be a dozen rooms where 50-75 people can gather for breakout sessions. Presentations will be in paired format, and each will be given two or three times during the conference, which allows producers to attend more of the sessions of interest to them.”

There will be 42 researchers from six states discussing large-scale trials that address a variety of conservation-tillage problems, along with 38 producer/farmers who will share their own how-to-make-it-work experiences.

“While topics will encompass the latest findings in cotton and rice production, they'll also include corn, sorghum, peanuts, and precision agriculture,” LaRose says.

“There's no better meeting to attend to learn more new techniques and systems for reducing tillage, fertility, pesticide/insecticide/herbicide, and planting costs.”

Farmers from Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee will be able to receive state pesticide recertification credits for attending the conference and certified crop consultants will earn CEUs.

Partnering with Mid-America Farm Publications in conducting the conference are Cotton Incorporated and the U.S. Rice Producers Association. Other co-sponsors include Delta and Pine Land Co., Monsanto, Griffin, RiceTec, Helena Chemical Co., USA Rice Federation, and seven major universities.

In addition to the conference sessions, many companies and organizations will have commercial exhibits and booths.

To register or obtain more information about the conference, telephone Robin Moll at 573-547-7212.