Precision Ag Summit to focus on profitability
JAMESTOWN, N.D. — In a down market, farmers look for ways to squeeze another dollar or two out of every acre. That makes this year's Precision Ag Summit a valuable tool for producers, says John Nowatzki, North Dakota State University Extension ag machine systems specialist and one of the event's organizers.
The Precision Ag Summit, put on annually by the NDSU Extension Service, North Dakota Farmers Union, Red River Valley Research Corridor and Dakota Precision Ag Center, will be held Jan. 16 and 17 at the Farmers Union Conference Center in Jamestown, N.D.
Precision agriculture involves using data, technology and management practices to improve outcomes. Many of this year's speakers and breakout sessions will focus on economics and profitability, Nowatzki says.
"Folks in the ag industry and production ag are obviously challenged financially right now with crop prices," says Ryan Aasheim, an associate with the Praxis Strategy Group in Fargo who oversees activities of the Red River Valley Research Corridor. Aasheim has been involved with coordinating the Precision Ag Summit throughout its history. "We have experts who have spent a great deal of time and energy over the years developing models and developing examples of how precision ag tools can deliver cost savings."
Nowatzki says using precision agriculture techniques and tools for economic purposes is nothing new. About 20 years ago, Nowatzki was asked what the first precision agriculture technology farmers would embrace. He responded with yield monitors.
"I was really wrong. What farms adapted first was GPS guidance, because it gets back to the idea of economics," he says, explaining that it's easy to see the return on investment when going from a 6 to 7 percent overlap to 1 percent.
Terry Griffin, assistant professor at Kansas State University, and David Schimmelpfennig, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service will discuss on the first day how precision agriculture affects the bottom line. Keynote speaker Raj Khosla, professor of precision agriculture at Colorado State University, will discuss digital agronomy and data analytics for precision crop management.
Speakers on the second day will highlight multi-hybrid planting, data ownership, privacy, water quality, precision scouting, data capture and crop yield analysis.
Because they were so well received last year, the Precision Ag Summit again will feature breakout sessions, Aasheim says. Three tracks of breakout sessions are offered on the topics of water quality, drones and imagery, and precision technology and equipment.
The event also includes exhibitors and equipment dealers.
Nowatzki says about 250 people typically attend the summit. Early registrations are running a little bit ahead this year, so he expects a good turnout. About half of attendees typically are farmers, and half are from other parts of the agriculture industry.
Aasheim says there is something at the conference for anyone in agriculture. Even people who do not plan to or cannot afford to buy or subscribe to the latest technologies can learn new practices or new ways of doing things that can improve their operations, he says. A focus for the summit has been on offering things to interest even the experts in precision agriculture while not losing those who may be new to the idea.
"Technology moves so fast that there's always something new to talk about," Aasheim says.
The full summit costs $100, and attending for only one day costs $60. Students can attend for $50. Prices include breakfast and lunch. Advance registration and on-site registrations also are and a detailed agenda are available at theresearchcorridor.com/precisionagsummit2017.