Submitted by: Lorie Smith Georgian Central Regional Communication Coordinator

With the advent of virtual meetings, crop producers have a wide array of conferences and trade shows available to them in 2021. In the past, mileage or snowstorms may have restricted their choices, but in the age of online opportunities, the selection has never been greater.

One of the conferences that producers may be less familiar with is Grey Bruce Farmers’ Week (GBFW, GBFW21) and 2021 marks 55 years of continuous producer education through this conference. This year it will be held across eight days, delivered online/virtually, from January fifth to 12. Of note, GBFW has been live streaming their event for three years, so it is an easier pivot to this fully virtual platform. GBFW21 will have a bonus Trade Show day, followed by Beef, Dairy, Goat, Sheep, Horse, Ecological and Crops days. The trade show will be available for real-time, face-to-face engagement, during a daily two-hour exhibitor showcase. There are 68 speakers booked for this informative agricultural conference, from across Ontario, western Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. Most of the presentations will be delivered in real-time, with some bonus pre-recorded options. Watching in real-time allows producers to pose questions via the chat box, or following the speaker’s session, speakers will be available for face-to-face questioning. After the commodity day, the re-play content will be available to ticket holders for 30 days for their viewing convenience. The cost is $30/day, $70 for 3 days, or $160 for the whole week’s content (plus HST and processing fees).

Each day has an incredible line-up of topics, and producer panels. However, as a Soil and Crop member you should keep in mind that Ecological Day – January 11, and Crops Day – January 12, have the highest number of pertinent soil and crop topics.

On Ecological Day, Ellen Polishuk, who is the owner of Plant to Profit from Maryland, U.S.A., will present Improving Soils = Making More Money. In this presentation, Polishuk will highlight how adopting soil health principles and practices can add to and allay production costs. She will review the whole system effects of biological farming in terms of both ecological and financial farm well-being. Brett Israel, owner of 3Gen Organics, will share Cover Crop Tips, followed by Janine McGowan who will discuss Bees and Cover Crops. The panel for Ecological Day is titled In Search of a More Sustainable Food Production System.

Crops Day is packed with soil and cropping topics. The GBFW21 committee is delighted to feature keynote speaker, Lee Briese, who is an agronomist with Central Ag Consulting, from North Dakota, U.S.A. An OSCIA Tier One grant will be used to cover his speaker fees. The Tier One grant is an easy to apply for OSCIA/OMAFRA funded grant, available to our local and regional SCIA’s. Brieses’ presentation, Soil and Crop Management: The Details Matter, will address soil management, including reduced tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, and intercropping. Briese tries to reduce some of the complexity around the topic of soil health and encourages growers to adapt and customize practices to fit their individual farms and needs. The presentation will also cover some simple techniques to evaluate changes in soil health.

Following Briese, there will be a panel discussion titled Crystal Ball on Crops 2021, with agronomists Meghan Moran, Deb Campbell, Luke Hartung, Dr. Dave Hooker and moderated by Andrew Barrie.

Next, Matthew Pot, consultant and economist with Grain Perspectives will delve into 2020 Vision: What Have We Learned? Pot comments that in 2020, producers were forced to make crop decisions and market in the presence of uncertainty. What have we learned? What could this mean for 2021 and forward? In the presentation he will discuss the moving parts of the currency and grain markets in an intuitive fashion.

Peter Johnson closes the real-time session with The Holy Grail: Organic Matter! Recent findings have totally changed how we think about organic matter, what we can do to make it, and how we can utilize it. With higher organic matter, management options at the field can change dramatically. Johnson alerts us to stay tuned!

Pre-recorded presentations, available for viewing at any time will include: Dr. Merrin MacRae from the University of Waterloo (Phosphorous Management); Marri Veliz and Alan Willits (Huronview Demo Farm with Contour and Control Drainage); and Andrew Barrie, environmental specialist with OMAFRA, will dig into the Ontario Topsoil Survey – Grey Bruce and Beyond.

For more information. please check outw ww.gbfw.ca, email lorie@greyagservices.ca, or call 519-986-3756.

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