America's largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural & educational experience!

Learning Center Sessions

In-depth discussions of current issues and topics that have a direct impact on your farm. Sessions are led by industry experts and fellow farmers. Topics include production, soil health, cover crops, policy, the future of farming, rural development, marketing, weather and more. Offered on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


THURSDAY, February 28


8:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Break Through Yield Barriers by Building Better Plants

Sponsored by Stoller

Moderator: Dale Hanke, Marketing Director, Stoller
Panelists: Dr. Brian Adams, Agronomist, corn, soybeans, and cotton from Jackson, Tenn.; Perry Galloway, Farmer, corn, soybeans, rice, and wheat from Augusta, Ark.; Josh Koehn, Farmer, corn, wheat, sorghum, and corn from Montezuma, Kan.; Joshua Rausch, Farmer, corn and soybeans from Paulina, Iowa


During this roundtable panel discussion, learn from experienced corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum growers and agronomists who not only consistently place high in state and national yield contests each year, but who also intensely manage every crop acre to maximize plant performance. The moderated discussion will highlight the management practices these yield breakers employ in their operations and why they use them. Learn how they manage their crops at key times throughout the season and focus on critical areas of crop development that directly impact yields – all designed to build better plants that lead to better yields.





9:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Learn from the Masters

Sponsored by AgriGold

Speakers: Randy Dowdy, NCGA Corn Yield Champion and Soybean World Record Holder, Valdosta, Ga.; David Hula, Corn Yield World Record Holder, Charles City, Va.


The most successful growers have more in common than just the high-yielding seed they use. They all know maximizing their acres is a team effort. It takes a combination of the best genetics, know-how, and true partnership to be a Yield Master. If you’re interested in and committed to trying something new – and are willing to be a student of the crop – don’t miss this Yield Master session to learn the approach that the nation’s top corn growers take to growing high-yielding corn.





1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (on the Main Stage)
Plugging into the Power of Your Regional Cover Crop Council

Sponsored by GO Seed


Moderator: Jerry Hall, Director of Research, GO Seed
Panelists: Dr. Rob Myers, Regional Director of Extension Programs, North Central Region, USDA


Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program; Farmers and other cover crop experts
A panel of farmers and other cover crop experts will share their experiences and benefits from participating in their Regional Cover Crop Council. The regional Cover Crop Councils (Northeast, South, Midwest and West) now represent the entire U.S. Each Council is composed of a network of stakeholders including breeders and researchers, conservationists, government agencies, influencers, seed suppliers and farmer consumers. The mission of the councils is to connect dots and provide transparency, education and collaboration throughout the network. By plugging into this network, farmers are better able to navigate the complex “Sustainability – Cover Crop – Soil Health” landscape both locally and nationally.





2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. (on the Main Stage)
Technology, Economics, and Sustainability: Combining 4R Nutrient Stewardship and Soil Health Practices
Sponsored by The Fertilizer Institute, Nachurs Alpine Solutions, International Certified Crop Adviser Program


Moderator: Dr. Sally Flis, CCA, Director of Agronomy, The Fertilizer Institute
Speakers: Maria Cox, 4R Advocate Farmer, Cox Land and Cattle Co., White Hall, Ill.; Dr. Terry Griffin, Assistant Professor, Kansas State University; Dr. Jason Weirich, Director of Agronomy, MFA Incorporated


The 4R concept is the Right fertilizer source at the Right rate, at the Right time and in the Right place. Combining 4R with soil health practices leads to a strong economic and environmental legacy on the farm. This session will be a discussion among the speakers about integrating 4R and soil health practices. Topics will include no-till, cover crops, diverse crop rotations, technology opportunities, the Certified Crop Adviser Program, and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) programs for farmers.


The session also includes the presentation of the 2019 Certified Crop Adviser of the Year award, celebrating outstanding individual proficiency and industry leadership.





friday, march 1


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Assessing Worldwide Potential for U.S. Soy

Sponsored by U.S. Soybean Export Council


Speakers: Jim Sutter, Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Soybean Export Council; Rosalind Leeck, Senior Director Market Access, U.S. Soybean Export Council; Paul Burke, Senior Director U.S. Soy Marketing, U.S. Soybean Export Council


Soybeans are the largest agricultural commodity exported from the United States, representing more than $28 billion in export value in 2017, making export markets hugely important to U.S. soybean farmers’ profitability. 2017 marked the second year in a row that exports exceeded 60 percent of U.S. soybean production. That same year, a checkoff study researched the most impactful global soy markets. This international marketing analysis will help the U.S. soy industry identify how it reprioritizes and defines target markets. Learn about this work and how the U.S. Soybean Export Council is using it to develop new international markets for U.S. soy.





The Art and Science of Creating Herbicides

Sponsored by Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont


Speaker: Steve Wilson, Formulation Chemist with Corteva Agriscience™, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont


Generic crop protection products are flooding the market, and many farmers are weighing the pros and cons of mixing their own herbicides versus purchasing multi-modal, premixed crop protection products. While the active ingredients are easy to identify on the label, the art and science of the herbicide lies in the nondescript “Other Ingredients” category – a category that can exceed 60% of the product in some cases! Through a highly visual, interactive presentation, a leading formulation R&D chemist will demonstrate how the components of a multi-modal herbicide work together – and how the “Other Ingredients” category can improve your ROI.





Aligning Agriculture Messaging with Today’s Consumer
Sponsored by Dairy Management Inc.


As consumer preferences change and technologies evolve, messaging and communications strategies need to adapt as well. Discover the trends shaping modern consumer-facing marketing and how agriculture needs to refine its approaches to make lasting connections with today’s consumers.
Through consumer research conducted by the dairy industry, we have learned more about our consumers. We know where they get their news and information and who they trust and deem credible as sources of information. They are looking for a “connection” and an “experience” with their food. Hear how the dairy industry is taking modern marketing communications to the next level through partnerships and an industry-wide campaign to reach consumers.





2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Integrated Weed Management: It Pays Off!

Sponsored by Bayer


Moderator: Arlene Cotie, Senior Product Development Manager, Bayer


In an economically challenging time, farmers have tough decisions to make on how to manage weeds and pests. New research shows that practicing Integrated Weed Management provides financial returns to growers in addition to the environmental, sustainability, and resistance management benefits. A persistent Integrated Weed Management approach will lower the weed seed bank, limit weed infestation in the future, and put weeds off balance for better yields. Hear about the latest research on Integrated Weed Management, its economic benefits, and learn tips for how to implement it on your farm.


Panelists include University of Arkansas researcher Jason Norsworthy to discuss the economics and new research on harvest weed seed destruction methods to drive down weed seed banks; an EPA representative to discuss the value of implementing Integrated Weed Management from a regulatory perspective; and a farmer to discuss the practical pro’s and con’s of adopting IWM practices on the farm to remain competitive and sustainable for future generations.





The Bottom Line Benefits of Sustainability
Sponsored by National Corn Growers Association


Speakers: Shefali Mehta, Executive Director of Soil Health Partnership, National Corn Growers Association; Nathan Fields, Vice President of Production and Sustainability, National Corn Growers Association; Rachel Orf, Director of Stewardship and Sustainability, National Corn Growers Association; Elyssa McFarland, Development Director for Soil Health Partnership, National Corn Growers Association


Sustainability isn’t a buzz word in agriculture. It’s an emerging pathway to cleaner water, healthier soil and a potential income stream for farmers. Hear the latest on exciting sustainability opportunities available to you. Discover the latest models providing cash return to growers – and those returning invaluable research results to aid you in making key decisions for your operation. If you’re already pursuing or considering adopting practices or programs on your farm related to soil health, biotech opportunities, pollinator health, water quality or other ecosystem programs, this session is for you.





Digital Disruption in Agriculture
Sponsored by Syngenta

Speaker: Marcos Castro, Syngenta Business Development Lead, Digital Agriculture


The digital revolution in agriculture is only beginning. From the powerful computers most farmers carry in their pockets to the heavy equipment used to transform their land, digital tools are everywhere. Today, the farm is more connected than ever, and the connectivity will continue to accelerate. Farmers need to embrace digital opportunities, power through the frustrations, and ask for even more and better tools that seamlessly connect. The farmers who do will be able to sustainably prosper for generations to come. This session will provide you with strategies to leverage digital tools to your benefit.





3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

National Wheat Yield Contest: Putting Quality in the Spotlight
Sponsored by National Association of Wheat Growers/National Wheat Foundation and U.S. Wheat Associates

Moderator: Steve Joehl, Director Research & Technology, National Association of Wheat Growers, and Director of the National Wheat Yield Contest
Panelists: Dennis Pennington, Wheat Extension Agronomist, Michigan State University; Dave Green, Executive Vice President, Wheat Quality Council; Steve Wirsching, Vice President & Director West Coast Office, U.S. Wheat Associates; (invited) National Wheat Yield Contest winners


U.S. wheat growers produce the highest quality in the world, in six different classes (HRW, HRS, HWW, SRW, SWW, Durum). The National Wheat Foundation will demonstrate this achievement through results obtained from the 2018 Wheat Yield Contest. This session will help wheat growers understand how the National Wheat Yield Contest Committee is incorporating a quality measurement as part of its contest submission requirements and how it will impact growers’ placement in the contest. You’ll have the opportunity to hear from a diverse set of panelists about the importance of improving the yield and quality of wheat.





What Does It Mean to Rebuild Rural America?
Sponsored by Farm Credit


Speakers: Brian Cavey, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, CoBank; Gary Matteson, Vice President for Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs & Outreach, Farm Credit Council


This session looks beyond infrastructure and explores critical factors influencing the vitality of rural America. What does rebuilding Rural America look like? What’s it going to take? How do we address the rural/urban economic divide? Learn how public policy and public/private funding efforts affect rural America now, while securing the future for agriculturalists and the rural communities they call “home.”





SCN: Managing North America’s Top Yield Robber Is Getting Tougher
Sponsored by The SCN Coalition


Moderator: Kurt Lawton, Editor, Corn+Soybean Digest
Panelists: Pat Duncanson, Farmer from Mapleton, Minn.; Ron Heck, Farmer from Perry, Iowa and Past President of American Soybean Association; Kathy Lawrence, Plant Pathologist, Auburn University; Greg Tylka, Nematologist and Director of the Iowa Soybean Research Center, Iowa State University; Albert Tenuta, Plant Pathologist, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


A panel of top-tier soybean farmers, who are successfully managing yield-robbing soybean cyst nematode (SCN) in their fields, and university researchers will address the newest challenges emerging in managing SCN. This diverse panel – representing the multiple regional and rotational differences across soybean country – will share the newest best practices available to control SCN populations while maintaining high yields.





saturday, March 2


8:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. (on the Main Stage)


Hot Topics from our Nation’s Capital
Sponsored by John Deere


Moderator: Sara Wyant, President, Agri-Pulse Communications
Panelists: (invited) Staff Directors for the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees


This panel of DC policymakers will discuss the new Congress and the agenda for the Congressional Agriculture Committees: What should attendees expect in agriculture policy this year?  How will the start of the presidential election cycle affect policy-making? What is the outlook for Farm Bill implementation, immigration reform and trade policy? Hear a preview of the agriculture issues that policy makers may tackle in 2019.





Can Blockchain Deliver Real Value to Farmers?
Sponsored by Illinois Soybean Association


Moderator: Eric Woodie, Trade Analyst, Illinois Soybean Association
Panelists: Luis Macias, Chief Executive Officer, GrainChain; Mark Pryor, Chief Executive Officer, The Seam; Steve Pitstick, Farmer, Maple Park, Ill.


Blockchain – a groundbreaking cryptocurrency – is widely considered to be a once-in-a-generation revolutionary technology. This quickly-evolving technology is being utilized by many business sectors and industries. Blockchain is predicted to continue to disruptively impact our financial systems, our supply chains, our governments and more – having the potential to fundamentally change the way we do business. Join the Illinois Soybean Association in this informative session to learn more about how farmers can utilize this emerging game-changer.





Up a Lazy River: The Impact of Prevailing Weather Patterns
Sponsored by DTN/The Progressive Farmer


Speaker: Bryce Anderson, Senior Agriculture Meteorologist, DTN/The Progressive Farmer


Weather systems have shown a tendency to move slower or even stall longer when they form and establish over the primary crop areas. The result can be either very wet or very dry conditions. This session will focus on how these patterns are acting ahead of the 2019 crop year and their forecast impact on production, as well as an overall weather outlook on the season. Anderson and the DTN weather team lead the industry in identifying how longer-lasting systems and tendencies will affect crop conditions, and market prices, in the U.S. and around the globe.





10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Corn Residue: Friend or Foe?

Sponsored by Calmer Corn Heads


Speakers: Dr. Fred E. Below, Ph.D., Professor of Crop Physiology, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois; Alison M. Vogel, Ph.D. Program Research Assistant, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois


Ever-increasing corn yields, conservation tillage, and continuous corn production all lead to more crop residue after harvest. That can be a nightmare or an asset depending on how this residue is managed. We advocate managing the residue in place to improve both soil health and to synchronize the release of mineral nutrients in the residue with the nutrient needs of the subsequent crop. In this session, you will discover ways to manage corn residue through an easily adaptable combination of mechanical
and chemical techniques to increase grain yields.





12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Closing Learning Center Session

Managing Your Farm in Times of Rising Interest Rates and Volatile Trade
Sponsored by Purdue University Center for Commercial Agriculture


Speakers: Dr. Jason Henderson, Associate Dean and Director of Purdue Extension; Dr. Michael Langemeier, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University; Dr. James Mintert, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University and Director, Center for Commercial Agriculture; Fred Seamon, Managing Director, CME Group


U.S. interest rates are increasing, a marked shift away from the long-term decline in interest rates that began in the early 1980s. And for decades U.S. trade policy was focused on reducing or eliminating barriers to trade, helping foster growth in U.S. agriculture’s exports. But in 2019, U.S. agriculture is entering a new era, where interest rates are increasing and tariffs, trade disputes and exchange rate fluctuations can disrupt export growth, all of which increase risks to producers. How will you manage your farm in this new era of rising interest rates and more volatile exports?


Our expert panel will share the key lessons from 2018 and help producers plan for the financial realities of 2019. The discussion will feature the latest data from the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer, which focuses on what farmers see happening with farmland value, cash rental rates, farm income, and more. You will have an opportunity to ask questions of the experts.


Join us for this Closing Learning Center Session that will leave you informed and ready to take on the challenges and opportunities that arise in 2019.