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Terry Griffin, a cropping systems economist at Kansas State University, spoke at the Precision Ag Summit in Jamestown, N.D., on Jan. 16, 2017. He's the keynote speaker at the 2018 event, scheduled for Jan. 15-16 in Jamestown, N.D. Cody Rogness/Agweek

Early registration date nears for Precision Ag Summit

JAMESTOWN, N.D. — In 2012, Terry Griffin was flying into Jamestown, N.D., and was taken aback by the "potholes" in the fields in the Dakotas.

"I didn't know what they were," he says. "I just never saw features like that in the field."

Griffin, an assistant professor in Kansas State University's Department of Agricultural Economics, was on his way to the first Precision Ag Summit during that trip. And once he learned about the Prairie Potholes — depressional wetlands found across the region — he saw how a unique problem to the region could be managed with precision agriculture techniques that would help find the best way to work around the sloughs.

Griffin plans to return to Jamestown for his fourth Precision Ag Summit next month, this time as the keynote speaker. The summit is scheduled for Jan. 15-16 at the North Dakota Farmers Union Conference Center. The two-day event costs $75 during early registration, which ends Dec. 15, and $100 if one registers after Dec. 15. There also are options to pay for a one-day registration. The registration fee includes meals, snacks and access to all content.

Griffin, who also spoke at the summit in 2016 and '17, plans to "tell a story" this year about the story of precision agriculture over the past 30 or so years and forecast where the field is going.

This year's theme is, "Creating certainty during times of volatility."

"Volatility is anything you can't control, like the weather to market prices to other conditions like drought," says Ryan Aasheim, event coordinator for Precision Ag Summit.

Much of the agenda reflects the idea that precision agriculture techniques can allow farmers to focus on the things they can control and mitigate the things they can't, Aasheim says.

There will be sessions on finance and operations management, using precision agriculture for conservation efforts, nutrient management, data access and management, soil health, weather, ag policy, farm regulations and more.

The summit has attracted as many as 330 people, but Aasheim says 300 is the optimal number for the conference. And most years, it brings in about that many people, most of them farmers from across the region who range from beginners in precision agriculture to early adopters of technology.

"Most people will find something at our event," Aasheim says.

Griffin says he's been impressed by the attendance at the three summits he has attended, and he says the profile of the Precision Ag Summit is on its way up. This year, the International Conference on Precision Agriculture has added the Precision Ag Summit to its calendar of events, he explains. While the Jamestown event isn't likely to attract the worldwide attendance of the international event slated to be held in Montreal this year, Griffin says it's a good sign that the conference is keeping tabs on what happens in the Dakotas and how farmers here have overcome their issues, including Prairie Potholes and other characteristics unique to the area.

Aasheim says the summit this year also will include a "reverse panel," in which farmers can tell experts what they'd like to see happen or what they need to know about precision agriculture.

The event continues to focus on the needs of farmers, he says.

"We feel that we've succeeded if we have attendees who leave and immediately say, 'I'm going to try that," he says.

For more information on the Precision Ag Summit, visit