Kansas

To survive in the next century, farmers will need to have strong negotiation and people skills, says Greg Horstmeier, chemical and seeds editor for Farm Journal.

Horstmeier, who covers crop production practices nationally and internationally, will be one of more than 30 speakers at No-till on the Plains 2000, Jan. 24 and 25 at the Bicentennial Center, Salina.

Margins will become ever tighter and only those who represent enough production on their own or who join forces with other farmers will have true bargaining power, Horstmeier says.

As fewer farmers operate more acres and children forego returning to the farm, tomorrow's farm manager will become a corporate human resources person. Hiring and firing of employees and wooing potential landlords will become an art. A producer will learn, or have someone on board who can speak another language, whether Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian or Laotian.

"Horstmeier's remarks on the future of agriculture will complement the details of no-till production," says Charles Atkinson, coordinator for the Kansas Crop Residue Management Alliance (KCRMA). The statewide and regional alliances are farmer-driven groups aimed at increasing farming profitability through conservation tillage practices. In its fourth year, the No-till on the Plains Conference has drawn record attendance from Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma. Last year, 1,400 people attended.

For those who think there aren't any deals left in agriculture, think again. The early-bird registration fee of $50 for the No-till on the Plains Conference has been extended through Jan. 15.

Tim Christian, conference coordinator, says, "With the rush of the holidays, farmers minds were on their families, an not the Dec. 31 deadline. Consider the extension a belated Christmas present from KCRMA. After Jan. 15, the cost will be $60 per person.

Registration begins at 1 p.m., Jan. 24. Send a check payable to KCRM-NTOP 2000 to No-Till on the Plains 2000, PO Box 236, McPherson, KS 67460-0236. By phone, call 800-484-2995 and enter PIN 2000. For more information, check out the Internet website of the Kansas Crop Residue Management Alliance, www.residue.org.

The opening session features Bill Richards, Ohio no-till farmer, and a former chief of the Soil Conservation Service. He will tell how farmers through their conservation-oriented practices may benefit from the sale of carbon credits. Details of how credits will be figured and how much they will be worth are yet to be determined.

Plenty of time is allowed for producers to visit the sold-out trade show, with more than 60 exhibits featuring the latest in no-till technology. A favorite of past years, the Beer and Bull Session, set for 5 p.m., Monday, gives farmers a chance to talk more informally about the successes (and failures) of no-till.

Registration reopens at 7:30 a.m., Tuesday.

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