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Winter farm conferences facilitate learning

The winter season is something that is very welcome in our household. I'm sure for many others, the farming season is similar to being in a race with no time to stop until the holidays roll around.

This time of year I am balancing between farmers, conferences and the household schedule with a few reminders from my wife when the kids need to be picked up from their activities. Thank goodness for the "reminder app" on my iPhone or the kids would still be at practice. Although I stay busy visiting with farmers and attending different meetings, I do enjoy the cold months to spend more time with the family.

My farmers often ask me how I attend different conferences without becoming bored. I would call it the Fear Factor. The fear of not learning or staying up-to-date on issues keeps me motivated to learn from as many people as I can. So far this winter, I have attended the Northern Ag Expo in Fargo, N.D., Conservation Tillage Conference in Willmar, Minn., Prairie Grains Conference in Grand Forks, N.D., and the Devils Lake Extension Roundup in Devils Lake, N.D.

At the Northern Ag Expo I was able to listen to North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring discuss the state's position on enforcing new dicamba regulations for the 2018 season. The Conservation Tillage Conference brings in farmers and consultants and is a very open and educational forum on what farmers are doing in utilizing no till and strip till and in raising cover crops. The Prairie Grains Conference was a full house again this year, likely due to more interest from farmers wanting to raise wheat.

The Devils Lake Extension Roundup is the conference that is closest to home for many of the farmers I work with, and many of them attend. This meeting has many different speakers and topics, so attendees are able to prioritize what they want to hear about. For me, sometimes the after-meeting social is just as a beneficial as the conference itself. Following the Roundup, I sat at Ty's Lodge with farmers from Maddock, Aneta, Sharon, Northwood, Dahlen, Petersburg and Jamestown, N.D. The information we share is quite valuable. We are all after the same goal and learning from each other can help accomplish such a challenge.

The peak and the pit

When our family of five goes on vacation, my wife asks the kids what was the peak of the trip and to follow that, what was the pit. When I attended the CTC conference in Willmar in December, I used the same concept as our group of six traveled home in the Suburban. Unexpectedly, there were six different peaks for what each person viewed as the most beneficial of the conference. There was some commonality for what we viewed as pits. It goes to show that most farmers and consultants think independently when attending these conferences.

As I continue to make my farmer visits, we look to address our farm plans for 2018. In the office we are busy analyzing soil tests and making our fertilizer recommendations and prescription rates. Towards the end of February, HusoCrop holds our annual grower meeting where I will summarize ideas and concepts I learned from this meeting season and prepare them for some things I am concerned with for 2018. Farmers may want to try a new seed treatment, utilize a different fertilizer method or add an additional fungicide pass to their crops this year, and I need to be ready to handle it.

Continue to enjoy the winter as I will. The race will begin soon.