Newswise — May 17, 2018 - The Sustainable Agronomy Conference, sponsored by American Society of Agronomy (ASA) June 26-27, “will bring together the best science and the best practitioners to advance sustainability,” says Gary Pierzynski, ASA president.

“ASA is proud to sponsor this first conference. This ‘science with a purpose’ coverage of sustainable agronomy will be unique and offer many direct applications that will benefit the food system,” he says. Pierzynski works at Kansas State University.

To learn more about the conference, visit Highlights include:

  • Kate Schaffner, World Wildlife Fund, says “the technical resources discussed at the Sustainable Agronomy Conference can make ambitious conservation and sustainable sourcing goals achievable in the field.” As the farmer’s trusted advisor, certified crop advisers (CCAs) “need a knowledge base ranging from managing different soil types in a single field to developing the business case for adopting new practices.” Schaffner will moderate the session on the “Economics of Sustainable Agronomy,” which includes speakers from Land O’ Lakes, EFC Systems, and Ceres Solutions Cooperative.
  • Randal Simonson will moderate “The Agronomy of Sustainable Agronomy.” Although the concepts might seem simple to those already in the field, “Sustainability is about keeping family farms producing food for families around the world.” Simonson, who works at Helena Agri-Enterprises, was in the first class of CCAs to gain the Sustainability Specialty certification in August 2016.
  • Kirsten Workman will help participants “discover the techniques and tools that are the most important to ensure success with agronomic best management practices.” Workman is a CCA with the University of Vermont Extension. She’ll also cover the question “Agronomist or Therapist? The ‘culture’ part of sustainable agriculture.”
  • “Nitrogen Balance, Sustainable Food Production, and Environmental Health” is the title of Ken Cassman’s talk. Cassman, an emeritus professor of agronomy and consultant, says, “Monitoring the nitrogen balance provides an indicator of nitrogen losses while also accounting for adequate nitrogen supply to maintain soil organic matter.”
  • Ryan Heiniger of Pheasants Forever will talk about mixing resource conservation with precision ag and grower profitability. Rather than focusing entirely on yield, growers might be able to use “revenue negative acres to significantly address water quality and wildlife habitat challenges.”
  • An ecological framework for making better weed management decisions will be addressed by Matt Liebman, Iowa State University. He will also give examples of improved weed management in Midwestern row crop systems. Matthew O’Neal, also of Iowa State, will talk about methods to integrate multiple tactics to limit future occurrence of resistance to insecticides and insect-resistant varieties.
  • In “Environmental Benefits of Sustainable Agronomy,” Shalamar Armstrong will discuss the balance of cover crops and the carbon-nitrogen ratio, and the influence on nitrogen release. “Cover crops are effective in reducing nitrogen loss through tile drainage. Mass adoption of cover crops on a watershed scale has the potential to increase water quality.”
  • Software- and metric-based assessments will be covered by Lexi Clark and Luke Zwilling. Clark is with Field to Market. She will talk about the Fieldprint Platform, which helps growers voluntarily and securely analyze how their management choices impact natural resources and operational efficiency. “From the farm gate to the retail and restaurant counter, all links in the agricultural value chain benefit from using the Fieldprint Platform,” says Clark. Zwilling will review Agrible’s community tool, which helps growers work with their trusted partners to make more sustainable decisions. The tools are integrated with Fieldprint, and allow growers and their partners to measure sustainability in real time.
  • Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau, will break down the complexities of communication: how to engage, acknowledge, share, and earn trust with regards to crop science and agriculture. “Farmers, agronomists, and certified crop advisers have a burdensome obligation to connect with a public more and more disconnected with agriculture,” she says.

“Sustainable agronomy represents basic food production at the entry point of the food system and offers many opportunities to move in a positive direction on the scale of sustainability,” says Pierzynski. “While sustainability has always been a part of best agronomic practices, more recent advances have allowed a more comprehensive view of the entire production system, including trade-offs, so that combinations of practices that have the largest overall benefit can be selected.”

The presentations will be available online a few weeks after the conference.

Media are invited to attend the conference. Media pre-registration by June 13 is required; please contact Susan V. Fisk, 608-273-8091, [email protected]