"This conference is a meeting of the minds of many people who do no-till," says Jim Hoorman, assistant professor studying cover crops and water quality issues, and an Extension educator in Mercer County. "There is a great deal of information available about no-till and current agricultural issues covered at this event."
Hoorman will lead several sessions at the conference, held at the Der Dutchman restaurant from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. His sessions will focus on his two key areas of expertise.
The focus on water quality, given ongoing discussions across Ohio about nutrient management issues around Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Marys, is perhaps the biggest topic at this year's gathering.
"Right now nutrient management experts are meeting to discuss changes in how we deal with phosphorus, not only in areas that impact Lake Erie, but for the rest of the state as well," Hoorman explains. "We're considering the ways we deal with phosphorus, including how much we apply broadcast, and what happens if we inject phosphorus into the soil, either using commercial fertilizer or manure."
Event organizers, mindful of pending changes in phosphorus management recommendations, included a significant panel discussion on that topic, in addition to a presentation detailing lessons learned in Indiana on phosphorus management issues.
In addition, presenters will discuss the latest research and technological advancements in no-till and cover crops.
"I'll be talking about how cover crops can make us money, which is pretty obvious this year," Hoorman says, describing one session he will host. "The general consensus is that we gain 10 bushels per acre on soybeans where we're using cereal rye as a cover crop. It helped conserve moisture during the hot, dry months we had in July this year, and also helped knock out a lot of weeds."
Several farmers, including leaders of the Ohio No-Till Council, will share their experiences improving yields and overall field conditions through cover crop use.
Hoorman said the benefits of cover crops were especially apparent this year, given the often-frustrating weather conditions.
"Jeff Rasawehr told me that his conventional corn was significantly better in fields where he had winter peas," Hoorman explains. "Dave Brandt's trials saw yields over 200 bushels in fields where he had winter peas, harry vetch, crimson clover and other cover crops. He was really tickled with the results."
Hoorman said in one instance, Brandt reported a field average of 210 bushels per acre where he had previously experienced marginal yields, attributing the increase to what cover crops had done to improve the soil.
The final session of the day also deals with cover crops, but from an entirely different perspective. Hoorman says the session will discuss aerial seeding of cover crops, featuring discussions from farmers who actually planted cover crops via airplane because the ground was too soft to do so with traditional machinery.
More information on the conference is available online from the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team at http://agcrops.osu.edu/