Title: Precision Conservation
Date: Thu Aug 4, 2016
Time: 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Moderator: N/A
Use the Newest Tech Tools to Enhance Your Yields AND Soil Health

At Taves Bayou Planting, our goal is to provide a commodity that consumers buy with confidence, knowing that it was grown in an environment that enhances soil health while maximizing the best use of the land. We utilize an array of devices ranging from drones in the sky to sub-surface fertigation to maintain a conservation friendly growing experience. Keeping the aircraft from becoming sub-surface, and the micro-irrigation from becoming airborne geysers can be a challenge. It has proven very beneficial to allow the next generation to concentrate on the techy side.

Donavon Taves (speaker)
Taves Bayou Planting
, LA
Farming for over 20 years, Donavon took an early interest in Conservation practices and associated cost-sharing through the NRCS. Tools that help keep an eye on inputs while maintaining efficient production have been used over the years. His farm is a participant in the National Association of Conservation District's Soil Health Champion network. Involvement with Louisiana and National Conservation efforts has presented many learning opportunities to improve the quality of the farm. The inconsistencies revealed by one of his first Drone flights over a corn field showed the value of this approach to management.
Garrett Taves (speaker)
Taves Bayou Planting
, LA
Born and raised on the farm, Garrett has learned that stable production is an important part of sustainability. With a keen interest in computer science, the "Farm from the Sky" scenario has given him opportunity to provide value to the farm other than driving a piece of equipment. He is enrolled at LeTourneau University this fall, becoming educated in Remote Piloted Aircraft and their applications in Agriculture.
Length (approx): 40 min
Using Remote Sensing to Assess Crop Residue Cover and Cover Crop Use

Since 1989, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) has been conducting a tillage and crop residue survey in over 3,000 counties across the agricultural United States to assess the adoption of high residue farming practices.    The survey was conducted as a windshield survey where a team of experts in each county drove a prescribed route through their county and assessed tillage type, previous and present crop and residue amount at regular intervals throughout the county.  Each county route was planned such that the survey constituted a statistically relevant evaluation of tillage types and residue amounts at the county level.  This survey was conducted consistently on an annual basis between 1989 and 2004 and still remains the most robust and complete database of tillage practices in existence.  Despite its age, information from this survey is still being used today.

The Operational Tillage Information System, or OpTIS, is a program developed by scientists at Applied GeoSolutions to estimate fractional crop residue cover on agricultural lands and also determine the presence or absence of cover crops.  This program is a measurement tool that can be used to estimate tillage types and amounts and can help to determine trends in tillage use over multiple years, including establishing a means of measuring continuous no-till or the continuous (or annual) use of minimum tillage practices that leave high amounts of crop residue on the soil surface for conservation and soil health purposes.

OpTIS uses remote sensing technology and aerial photography to measure the light reflectivity from agricultural land.  Based on the kind and amount of light that is being reflected, algorithms have been created that can estimate the percentage of the land that is covered by crop residue from the previous year’s crop that has been left on the soil surface.  By using weather information, soil moisture, humidity and other physical factors, scientists can account for variability in light reflectivity to improve consistency and accuracy of fractional crop residue cover estimates.

Also by evaluating the green bands of light, OpTIS can pick out those fields where cover crops are being used, giving conservationists, modelers and others a realistic look at the percentage of farmland being covered by cover crops.  By using multiple photos from various timeframes, we can pick out those fields where cover crops are used and distinguish those from fields of wheat or other small grains.

OpTIS is being piloted in Indiana to determine its applicability at estimating crop residue levels on a larger geography and to refine the algorithms that estimate crop residue levels.

Chad Watts (speaker)
Executive Director
West Lafayette, IN 47906
A native of Indiana, Chad received a Bachelor's degree in Natural Resources from the College of Agriculture at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. Chad has worked in conservation agriculture and watersheds for over 20 years, with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy and for the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC). Chad has been with CTIC as both a project director and now the executive director. Chad manages programs at CTIC that encourage conservation on agricultural lands and work to bring information and technology to farmers to help them achieve conservation and sustainability objectives on their farms while maintaining productivity and profitability. Chad lives with his family in Winamac, Indiana. He has a son (age 16) and a daughter (age 13). He enjoys a multitude of outdoor activities as well as participating in activities with his family.
Bill Salas (speaker)
Applied GeoSolutions
Durham, NH 03824
Dr. William Salas is President of Applied GeoSolutions, LLC (AGS) and President of DNDC Application, Research and Training, LLC. He received a Ph.D. Natural resources from University of New Hampshire. Prior to forming AGS in 2001, he worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and University of New Hampshire Complex Systems Research Center. His work and research focuses on the use of geospatial technologies for climate change analyses, greenhouse gas (GHG) emission studies, and environmental applications including remote sensing, geospatial modeling. He is an expert in developing and applying spatial biogeochemical models for assessing GHG emissions from agroecosystems, with a specific focus on the Denitrification-Decomposition (DNDC). He is active in the design and development of MRV systems for Ecosystem Service Markets and GHG reporting in the AFOLU sector.
Length (approx): 40 min
How Wildlife Habitat Needs and Precision Agriculture can fit within Agricultural Land Business Models

During periods with decreased commodity prices, identifying those portions of a field or farming operation that have decreased or negative return on investment offer opportunities for conservation to increase income.  Pheasants Forever, Inc. works with landowners to identify areas where conservation programs can be used to address environmental concerns and increase income.  When conservation fits into the farming operation, those areas are then identified for high quality habitat projects that benefit a wide range of wildlife from pollinator species to grassland songbirds to pheasants and quail.

Peter Berthelsen (speaker)
Director of Habitat Partnerships
Pheasants Forever, Inc.
In his current role, he works with the organization and its staff to develop and expand partnerships that help deliver the organizations mission. An organizational priority is to pursue opportunities that positively impact the establishing high quality habitat for pollinator species. Prior to employment with Pheasants Forever, work experience includes employment with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in North Dakota, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the U.S. Forest Service in Michigan. Current interests include the promotion of high diversity seeding mixtures in conservation programs, promotion of high quality pollinator habitat, use of prescribed fire as a management tool, expansion of the Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist partnership and identifying innovative ways to overcome conservation program delivery obstacles.
Length (approx): 40 min