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Published January 02, 2014, 10:44 AM

Zero-till group to hold workshop in ND

Zero tillage, once outside the mainstream of Northern Plains agriculture, is now a widely used farming practice.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Zero tillage, once outside the mainstream of Northern Plains agriculture, is now a widely used farming practice.

The Manitoba-North Dakota Zero Tillage Farmers Association’s annual workshop and trade show seeks to expand and enhance that popularity. The 2014 event is set for Jan. 6 to 8 at the Holiday Inn Riverside in Minot, N.D.

About 250 people normally attend the event. Most are from North Dakota, Manitoba and adjacent states and provinces, although some attendees come from across the country, says Bonnie Staiger, the association’s executive secretary.

This year’s theme is “Unlock Your Soil’s Full Potential.”

Emphasis is growing in the Upper Midwest on the importance of soil health.

Zero tillage always has put a priority on soil health, and the concept is incorporated into the entire workshop, not only sessions dealing specifically with it, Staiger says.

The workshop begins at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 6 with registration, followed by an evening meal, the association’s annual meeting and an “international show and tell.”

On Jan. 7, registration and the trade show begin at 7 a.m. Several sessions during the day will look at soil health, with other sessions on soil testing, soil compaction and drainage.

From 7 to 9 p.m., concurrent “farmer rap sessions” are scheduled on soil testing, field mapping, cover crops and zero-tillage corn and soybeans.

On Jan. 8, the workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. with a session on technology opportunities. Topics later in the day include cover crops, weed resistance and a look at the past and present of zero till.

An “extra session roundtable,” which offers lunch and a chance to visit with the speakers in small groups, is set for 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.

Speakers during the two days include Barry Todd, a plant and weed scientist and retired deputy minister of Food and Rural Initiatives in Manitoba; Yvonne Lawley, an agronomist and cropping systems researcher at the University of Manitoba; Jon Stika, soil scientist and soil health instructor with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service in Dickinson, N.D.; and Larry Cihacek, a professor of soil science at North Dakota State University.

Registration at the door is $175. A separate fee of $75 is charged for nonmembers to attend the extra sessions roundtable, which is free to association members.

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