National tour features latest conservation ag ideas

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Agriculture equipment demonstrations, expert insight and timely topics are all part of a national tour coming to central Illinois in July. Those interested in participating can register online. Early registration ends June 12.

The Conservation Technology Information Center’s (CTIC) 2013 Conservation in Action Tour will take place July 9-10 at several sites around Livingston County, Illinois. Area producers and regional experts will share conservation success stories with a diverse audience of agriculture leaders, including farmers, crop advisers, regulators and lawmakers, from more than 20 states.

“Because our audience is so diverse and brings such a variety of perspectives and experiences, the dialogue that happens throughout the tour is always unique and beneficial,” said Karen A. Scanlon, executive director of the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) in West Lafayette, Ind. “The tour gives the audience the chance to interact with others and to get up close to soil and equipment. Our goal is to give each attendee new information or new contacts that they can use to advance conservation in their own community.” 

Soil Health

The tour stops first at the Bachtold Farm to discuss soil health. Four sessions feature crop and livestock producers discussing topics related to soil health.

  • Participants can examine a soil pit for an up-close look at cover crop roots with Roger Windhorn, a soil scientist with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and local producer Ken Lehman.
  • Dan Towery and Hans Kok of the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative and area producers Greg and Ryan Myers will discuss no-till and soil core comparisons.
  • Mike Plumer, a retired University of Illinois Extension natural resources educator and researcher and renowned cover crop consultant, along with local producer Daniel Steidinger, will share insight on cover crop varieties, challenges and benefits to soil.
  • Terry Bachtold, Paul Youngstrum and Lori Younker of the NRCS, and a local veterinarian will discuss prescribed grazing and animal health.
  • Local producers Tim McGreal, John Traub and Marcus Maier will share their conservation systems stories and answer audience questions.

The session at the Bachtold farm also will feature a GreenSeeker demonstration on a corn plot. GreenSeeker is a monitoring device that is attached to a tractor and measures the nitrogen in corn by evaluating the color of the crop in the field. Using these results, producers can more accurately apply the amount of nitrogen needed by the growing crop.  

Nutrient Management

The second tour stop will be at the Kilgus Dairy, a local dairy farm that sells its own products in a store on the farm’s property, for sessions on nutrient management. Lunch will be served and Denise Keehner of the Environmental Protection Agency will share insight about the National Water Quality Initiative.

Howard Brown of Growmark, which is sponsoring this stop, will set the stage for discussions about nutrient management and the 4R approach – using the right nutrient source at the right time and right rate and in the right place.

Presenters include:

  • Producers Kevin and Danny Harms, together with Tim Smith, crop consultant, who will review nutrient management demonstrations and efficiency studies within CTIC’s Indian Creek Watershed Project.
  • Dan Schaefer, with Illinois Council on Best Management Practices, who will share information from the N-Watch program, an effort to quantify available nitrogen in the soil, and ongoing nitrogen rate plot work.
  • Laura Pepple, livestock Extension specialist for the University of Illinois, who will discuss manure management, while Dewey Haag, pork producer, demonstrates a manure drag line.

Drainage Water Management

At the Trainor Farm, producers and other experts will discuss drainage water management, the practice of using a water control structure to control the drainage outlet for agronomic and environmental purposes.

  • CTIC, the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Trevor Sample of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Mike Trainor, producer, will discuss the Trainor farming system, tile outlet monitoring water quality monitoring.
  • Phil Algreen, Agri Drain Corp., Jack Trainor, producer, and Dennis Davis, Davis Excavating, will demonstrate tile installation, show a control structure at work, talk about saturated buffers and discuss producer perspectives on drainage water management practices. 

The final stop at the Rooster Heaven Hunt Club in Forrest, Ill., offers a meal prepared with local foods and features Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, as the tour’s final speaker.

Transportation will be provided from the hotel to the stops and back to the hotel. A bus also is available for local tour participants. It will leave from Rooster Heaven Hunt Club on the morning of July 10. The local bus reservations are filling fast.

Special rates for hotel rooms are available at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. Call reservations at 800-627-7468 before June 16, 2013, and mention the CTIC Tour to receive a special rate. Registration also is available online.

Those interested in attending the tour must register through CTIC. Registration includes the July 9 evening social and drinks, snacks, bus transportation, breakfast, lunch and dinner during the July 10 Tour. Early registration ends June 12. Discounts for early registration are: 

$75 - 

CTIC member ($125 after June 12)

$100 - 

Non-member ($150 after June 12)

$25 - 

Producer ($60 after June 12)

$25 - 

Media ($60 after June 12)

$25 -

Federal/State Employee ($60 after June 12)

$25 -


Online registration is available at

Tour updates and other information, including a video featuring a virtual preview of this year’s tour, can be found at For more information, contact Nicholle Vaughn at or 765-494-9555.

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