Submitted by: Mary Feldskov Heartland Regional Communication Coordinator

Farmers keep themselves busy in the winter months attending meetings, farm shows and industry events. It is their chance to learn about new products and services, new production techniques and the latest in research. It also provides them the opportunity to socialize with neighbours and friends, as well as engage in the development of farm policy.

This winter, life will be much different, with growers looking at a mostly blank calendar. As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across Ontario and Canada, the events that everyone looks forward to are cancelled, scaled back or moved online.

The SouthWest Agricultural Conference (SWAC), the Eastern Ontario Crop Conference (EOCC), and Golden Horseshoe and Heartland SCIAs have joined forces to present one centralized—but virtual—conference for 2021. The Ontario Agricultural Conference will have live sessions on January 6 and 7, and growers from across the province will be able to participate from wherever they have internet access.

While the new format will look a little different from other years, conference organizers are excited about the opportunity to bring high-quality, informative, and engaging speakers right to farm offices, kitchen tables and farms shops across Ontario.

The conference will feature both live and On Demand sessions, which gives participants an opportunity to engage in the session on their own schedule and at their own pace. The sessions will also be available to view after the conference concludes until March 31, 2021.

Live session topics include:

  • IPM Mythbusters: Featuring top entomologists Dr. Jocelyn Smith, University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus; Dr. Chris DiFonzo, Michigan State University; and Tracey Baute, OMAFRA.
  • A Farmer’s Guide to Road Safety: Ministry of Transportation Ontario speakers Matthew Mitchell and Richard Currado will help growers understand the rules, regulations, and road safety guidelines that will help keep us all safe.
  • The Corn Whisperer: Dr. Bob Nielson, professor of agronomy at Purdue University and Greg Stewart, Agronomy Lead, Maizex Seeds, come together to highlight key factors in producing high-yield corn.
  • Where the Rubber Hits the Field: Nick Dubuc, Soucy Intl; Mike Hryhorchuk, Michelin, NA; and Eric Brubacher, OK Tire will discuss how to choose the right tire or track solutions for your equipment.
  • Soybean Success: Dr. Dave Hooker, University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus and Horst Bohner, OMAFRA discuss soybean management options that will help you get MASSIVE soybean yields.
  • Production Pundits: wrap up your conference experience with agronomists Deb Campbell, Agronomy Advantage; Chris Olbach, Corteva; and Ken Currah, BASF. They will answer your questions and help you apply what you’ve learned to Ontario conditions.

In total, the conference will offer forty sessions covering a wide variety of topics, from cover crops, no-till and organic production to farm succession and marketing. Up to 16 Continuing Education Units (CEU credits) will be available to registered Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs).

Organizers of the Ontario Agricultural Conference recognize that growers like to visit with sponsors and trade show exhibitors, and there will be plenty of opportunity to do so in the virtual Exhibition Hall. And for those who attend conferences for the chance to chat with friends, colleagues, and neighbours, the Coming Together Virtual Social, held at the conclusion of day one (January 6) of the conference, will give participants the opportunity to do just that in the Live Stage Area.

Looking ahead to 2022, conference organizers are hopeful that in-person, live events can be held once again, with plans for SWAC and EOCC to resume. Golden Horseshoe and Heartland SCIAs will be working towards a new conference offering for 2022.

For more information, including a full list of sessions, sponsors, schedule, and to register


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