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 27
8:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Speakers: Jason Henderson, Associate Dean and Director of Purdue Extension; Michael Langemeier, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University; James Mintert, Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University and Director, Center for Commercial Agriculture; Fred Seamon, Executive Director of Commodity Research and Product Development, CME Group
In this session, a panel of experts will share key lessons from 2019 and help producers plan for the financial and risk management realities of 2020. The discussion will feature the latest data from the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. These results will have a specific focus on what farmers see happening with regard to their current financial situation, expected profitability in 2020, the desirability of making large investments in their farms, plans for expansion, and their approach to risk management during current challenging times.
9:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Taking Your Yields to the Next Level: Hear from the Yield Masters
Speakers: Randy Dowdy, NCGA Corn Yield Champion and Soybean World Record Holder, Valdosta, Georgia; David Hula, Corn Yield World Record Holder, Charles City, Virginia
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.
1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. (on the Main Stage)
Speakers: Manda Patrick, Director of Sales & Business Development, Iron Solutions; Cameron Hurnurd, Director of Data Services, Iron Solutions. Invited: CLAAS/University Professional and an Ag Machinery Dealer
Machinery expense continues to be farmers’ largest capital expense. Understanding how machinery values change over time along with technology advancements of new machinery can have a significant impact on your bottom line. We will explore used machinery trends, efficiency gains with new product introductions, and the cost to maintain.
2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. (on the Main Stage)
Moderator: Sally Flis, PhD, CCA, Senior Director of Agronomy, The Fertilizer Institute
Come meet the 2020 Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) of the year awarded by the American Society of Agronomy. Following the award presentation, a panel including the award winner, 4R Advocate farmer, and sustainable agriculture specialist, will discuss the adoption of 4R Nutrient Stewardship and conservation practices. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship considers the Right fertilizer source at the Right rate, at the Right time and in the Right place. The panel will cover impacts of practice adoption on farm profitability, nutrient and soil losses, and using practice data to meet consumer company sustainability goals and open new markets to farmers.
friday, FEBRUARY 28
12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Speakers: John Fisher, Vice President of Technical Affairs (Retired), Alamo Group; Dale Dobson, Farm and Home Safety Program Administrator, Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture (invited)
Lighting and marking standards and regulations (e.g. the AMISA Bill) can be difficult to interpret and understand. Product Safety and Compliance Engineer, John Fisher, will counsel attendees using the AEM “Visual Guide to Lighting and Marking,” which he was instrumental in developing. This session will provide guidance as you prepare your equipment for on-road travel. Topics will include the appropriate use of the often-misapplied SMV and SIS symbols and a brief explanation of recent changes to North American ag field equipment braking performance standards to accommodate the increased operational speed and mass of ag equipment.
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Moderator: Eric Woodie, Trade Analyst, Illinois Soybean Association
Although a small part of the U.S. grain market, container exports are becoming more popular. Shipments of containerized soybeans to Southeast Asia increased by 40% between 2014 and 2018. Container shipping has helped propel the growth of soybean exports to numerous global markets including Indonesia, which is now one of the five largest international destinations for U.S. soybeans. Market diversification is imperative in today’s dynamic agricultural environment. Our panel will explore these topics and more—all from the viewpoint of veterans in the industry.
Agriculture’s Connectivity Crisis: Is 5G the Solution?
Moderator: Ariel Wiegard, Federal Government Relations Manager, Syngenta
In 2019, the Federal Communication Commission released its $20 billion plan to finally deliver broadband to rural America via 5G, fifth-generation wireless internet technology. Reception to this plan has been mixed; some consider it a major win for farmers, while others contend 5G is not the answer for rural America’s connectivity needs. Syngenta will host an important conversation about the practical and political issues impacting widespread adoption of 5G in rural America, and whether 5G will enable you to adopt transformational technology that will accelerate innovation, sustainability and economic opportunity on your farm.
Beyond the Aurora Borealis: What’s Up in the Upper Atmosphere
Speaker: Bryce Anderson, Senior Agriculture Meteorologist, DTN/The Progressive Farmer
We’re familiar with the shimmering Northern Lights of the upper atmosphere. But, scientists are also identifying how the upper atmosphere can suddenly influence our surface temperature and weather patterns. DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson will detail these influences, their impact on the 2019 crop year, and how they may affect the 2020 growing season.
2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
How Farms Can Stay Profitable in Volatile Markets
Speakers: Rich Morrison, Manager of Marketing Services, CGB Diversified Services; Tom Sell, Managing Director, Combest, Sell & Associates; Tony St. James, Host, All Ag, All Day (broadcasting live)
Regardless of how high or low grain markets go at harvest, volatility is likely here to stay, making active marketing and risk management more important than ever. And, with each of the last five years presenting opportunities for farmers to sell grain forward at profitable levels, more marketing and risk management support will be key to farm profitability moving forward. Topics will include marketing and crop insurance basics and an in-depth look at links between marketing and crop insurance through futures, options and products like Production Cost Insurance and Whole Farm Revenue Protection. Presented by National Sorghum Producers in financial partnership with RMA.
Assessing & Expanding Soil Health for Production, Economic and Environmental Benefits: The FFAR Soil Health Collaboration
Speakers: Maria Bowman, PhD, Lead Scientist, Soil Health Partnership; Pipa Elias, Director of Agriculture in North America, The Nature Conservancy; Wayne Honeycutt, PhD, President and CEO, Soil Health Institute
Discover more about a unique partnership between three organizations: the Soil Health Institute, Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy—and how you can apply their findings and insights. With support from a FFAR (Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research) grant, this group is researching soil health in a practical way for farmers and landowners through long-term agricultural experiment fields in North America and evaluating new and existing soil health measures and frameworks. Learn about on-farm applied field level trials in partnership with growers to provide information on how to incorporate practices into their operations, and using the findings to address landowners and rental agreements to include incentivized adoption.
2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Speakers: Pauley Bradley, Manager, Customer Outcome Marketing, John Deere; Brad Van De Woestyne, PhD, Manager, Agronomic Innovation, John Deere; Scott Schadler, Manager, Production System Field Research, John Deere
How likely is it that you can replicate yield claims made in the marketplace on your own farm? In this session, you’ll see a vision for how you can use advanced technology and analytics to accelerate your learning about practices and approaches that may work best on your farm. In the process, you enhance your ability to unlock higher yields and reduce the cost of producing corn and soybeans. You’ll also discover how participating in John Deere on-farm research may be right for your operation.
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Speakers: Adrienne DeSutter, Behavioral Health Consultant and Illinois farmer; A.J. Hohmann, United States Marketing Manager for Bayer SeedGrowth; Katie Lyons, Mental health advocate and Illinois farmer; Rick Peterson, PhD, Family Life Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
This past year has brought an unprecedented level of pressure on America’s farmers. As members of the ag community, we recognize the need to help address the larger issues of mental health facing farmers and their families.
The Farm State of Mind initiative provides farmers relief by sharing resources and reducing the stigma surrounding this critical topic. Join us for this informative panel discussion including mental health experts featuring stories, tips, strategies and resources.
Ag Technology: Sorting Through the Opportunities for Your Farm
Moderator: Robert Brunner, Associate Dean for Innovation and Chief Disruption Officer, Gies College of Business, University of Illinois; Principal and Founder of Innodative, LLC
Innovation is at the heart of American agriculture. And as farm technology rapidly develops, it’s only natural that farmers will feel the pressure to adapt. With so many options and companies to choose from, how can farmers determine what’s going to be viable and beneficial to their farm? A panel of progressive farmers, representing a cross-section of commodities including soy, corn, wheat and sorghum, will discuss how integrating today’s technology led to more informed management decisions about their farms. You’ll hear about real experiences from fellow farmers on a topic that can be difficult to navigate.
Saturday, FEBRUARY 29
8:15 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
Speakers: Fred E. Below, PhD, Professor of Crop Physiology, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois; Randy Bales, Manager, Fairholme Ag, LLC; Brad Bales, Assistant Manager, Fairholme Ag, LLC
Increases in corn yields have been closely associated with increases in planting population. Too high a population, however, can cause competition for resources and decrease yield. Narrow row spacing (anything less than 30 inches) is a good strategy for managing higher plant populations, allowing for greater light interception, better availability of water and mineral nutrients, and the potential for substantial increases in yield. This session will educate growers on the value of narrow rows for corn production, why they work, and what additional management factors will be necessary to realize the full economic value of switching to narrow rows.
A Deeper Understanding of Soil Characteristics: Improving Seed and Management Decision-Making
Speakers: Jonathan Zuk, Agronomist, WinField United; Jason Weller, Senior Director of Sustainability, Land O’Lakes
Proper soil health is a key component in growing a successful crop. But a basic baseline may not be enough. Understanding the chemical makeup of the soil—as well as its physical and biological characteristics—can have a powerful, positive impact on decision making. This session will cover new research, data and technology that will make deeper soil analysis possible in order to help you make the best seed and management decisions on every acre—helping you identify where data-backed profit potential lies.
Emerging International Markets for U.S. Soy
Speakers: Jim Sutter, CEO, USSEC; Paul Burke, Senior Director, U.S. Soy Marketing, USSEC; Derek Haigwood, Chairman, USSEC; Monte Peterson, Vice Chairman, USSEC
The U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) actively works to build preference for U.S. soy in new and existing markets where there is a significant opportunity. During this session, USSEC leaders will discuss the organization’s “Emerging International Markets for U.S. Soy” strategy, which identifies new markets where there is considerable potential for U.S. soybeans. Learn how USSEC looks at factors such as growing populations, improving economic conditions, protein deficiencies in humans, and meeting demands for plant-based oils, among other market signals, to build new demand for U.S. soy.
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Speaker: Matt Bennett, Channel Seed grain marketing consultant, farmer and former grain elevator manager
Discover the nuts and bolts of starting a grain marketing plan that works. Learn how to develop a business-minded approach for your grain marketing to remove the emotional roller coaster of market shifts and world influences. Learn to evaluate your farm’s marketing plan the same way an investor looks at an investment portfolio. The end result: A more effective marketing plan. Learn and realize at what levels you can safely market, based on your individual farm’s break-even points. By knowing your costs of production and typical production levels, you can target incremental price levels that, if reached, will ensure you maximize the opportunities presented by the markets.