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A Brand New Year
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Dr. Victor L. Martin

Happy New Year. In the “good old days” January, February, and even March were fairly quiet times for agriculture except for those with cattle and especially those calving. This was a time to recharge and plan for the upcoming spring and summer.
There is a saying that nature abhors a vacuum and you can add agriculture to that adage. Everyone from K-State and crop consultants to all aspects of agribusiness looked at this “dead” time and decided it was an excellent opportunity for meetings, education, and marketing. Add in the need for pesticides and fertilizers on wheat and canola; preparations for the upcoming spring planting season; items as diverse as soil testing and analyzing last year’s mountain of computer generated yield and income/expense data and it becomes obvious that as in every other aspect of our modern world, agriculture has become a 24/7 enterprise. This isn’t good or bad, it just is. While there isn’t room here to list all the opportunities for those in agriculture two major events are coming up in January.
The annual “Cover Your Acres Conference” takes place in Oberlin on Jan. 17 and 18. While a little far from Great Bend, this conference sponsored by K-State and the Northwest Kansas Crop Residue Alliance has a little something for everyone with an annual attendance of about 500. Speakers are from K-State Research and Extension and industry. Issues discussed include kochia biology and control, new fertilizer products, utilizing yield monitor data, vertical tillage, and cover crops. The same programs will be offered both days of the conference. An added bonus is the “Bull Sessions” held both days allowing you to pick the brains of university and industry personnel. For more information and the cost visit and follow the links. Early bird registration is due by Jan. 10.
The second opportunity is in Salina on Jan. 24 and 25. The 16th annual event held by No-Till On The Plains is titled “Building A Solid Foundation.” This event covers a wide range of topics regarding all aspects of no-till and features speakers from all over this part of the country and even South America. A word of caution is necessary to those not familiar with this organization. There is a definite “bias” during this conference toward the adoption of a total no-till system. The information is useful and worth hearing but as in many aspects of agriculture it pays to critically evaluate what you hear.  No-tillage is one valuable tool in the conservation of natural resources and the production of food, fiber, and fuel; however, it is not the best tool in all situations. One of the best aspects of this meeting is the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of those who have converted from conventional to no-till over the last twenty plus years. You can access information regarding the conference and its cost at The early bird deadline to save $50 is Jan. 13.
Finally, Barton Community College resumes normal hours Jan. 2 and classes resume on Jan. 9. It promises to be another busy term for everyone but there is always room for you to enroll, sharpen old skills, and develop new ones.