High-tech agriculture tools will be spotlight of Amarillo farm show conference

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, 806-677-5608, skledbetter@ag.tamu.edu
Contact: Nich Kenny, 806-677-5600, npkenny@ag.tamu.edu
Jerry Michels, 806-354-5806, gmichels@ag.tamu.edu

AMARILLO – Getting updated information at the touch of a button isn’t new. However, having that capability while standing in a cotton or wheat field and making decisions based on that technological connection is a growing market for agriculture.

Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be participating in a new addition at the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show, the IDEAg Interconnectivity conference, to discuss some of the latest technology being offered to producers. The conference is set for 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 29 in the Grand Plaza of the Amarillo Civic Center.

“This event is designed to bring together producers, agribusiness leaders and the new technologies that will be essential for our interconnected future,” said Raymond Bianchi, vice president and group show director, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Admission is $30 per person and that will include lunch. Online registration is available at https://www.xpressreg.net/esite/index.php?show=AFRS112 .

The program will offer three general Texas Department of Agriculture pesticide applicator continuing education credits, according to Kristy Synatschk, AgriLife Extension agent in Hutchinson County and moderator for the program.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Jerry Michels, AgriLife Research entomologist, and Nich Kenny, AgriLife Extension irrigation specialist, both of Amarillo.

Michels, who focuses his work on development of integrated pest management systems for insects and mites that attack area crops, will discuss the new “iWheat” database that will be available in the spring to give producers real-time data for in-field diagnostics.

Michels, working with Dr. Allen Knutson of AgriLife Research and other scientists from Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, have spent 10 years in the area of wheat integrated pest management.

“We are now consolidating what we’ve learned over the past decade to provide producers a mobile application with guides to tell them when to start looking for insects and what they might be looking at in the field,” Michels said. “Our goal is to make that available on such systems as the iPhone or something similar.”

Kenny, who covers the entire Texas Panhandle and portions of the South Plains, focuses his work on agricultural irrigation efficiency, including crop water use, application efficiency and timing, and pumping plant efficiency.

Working with AgriLife Extension agents in five counties, Kenny chaired the Efficient Profitable Irrigation in Corn, or EPIC, project for the past two years. It is aimed at managing irrigation water for maximum efficiency and targets corn producers who historically employ efficient irrigation systems and solid agricultural practices.

“AgriLife Extension’s role in agriculture is to provide cutting-edge information and management tools to agricultural producers, essentially bridging the gap between research and production agriculture,” Kenny said. “We believe the EPIC project is allowing these progressive farmers to stay on top of their irrigation management and get the most efficiency for the water applied with maximum yields.”

An additional segment of the conference will be a sponsor/vendor panel session featuring Clint Hardee, vice president of sales for IntelliAir, a grain-management company based in Archie, Mo., and Lamar LaPorte, owner of Precision Water Works in Plainfield, Wis.

“This panel will not only look at how new technologies deliver critical data from the field to the farmer and how this data can be converted to useful information to boost on-farm productivity, but it also will reveal real-world solutions to address critical issues such as water resource management and stored-grain quality,” Bianchi said.

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