ADA, Ohio -- As renewable energy demand continues to shape the uses of field crops, such as corn, the implications of those changes on agriculture is coming to the forefront.
Matt Roberts, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural economist, will be on hand at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada, Ohio, to educate growers on 25X25 -- a new initiative that calls for using the land to produce 25 percent of the energy needs of the country by the year 2025.
Roberts will present at 1:15 p.m. on Feb. 22. The conference will be held Feb. 22-23 at MacIntosh Center at Ohio Northern University. The event is designed to educate growers, crop advisers, consultants and others in the ag industry on a wide variety of conservation tillage technology, production and management practices.
25X25 is a national working group, endorsed by Congress and picking up state-level steam across the country, that envisions by the year 2025 America's farms, forests and ranchers will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States, while continuing to produce safe, abundant, and affordable food, feed and fiber. The 25X25 group is sponsored by the Agriculture Working Group of the Energy Future Coalition -- a nonprofit organization whose central purpose is to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.
"At the conference, I'm going to provide background of the 25X25 initiative -- where did it come from, what it is achieving, and what are the real implications of it when it comes to land use and agriculture in this country," said Roberts. "There is an opportunity to tie rural and agriculture interests into the renewable energy movement and to make it a central player. If we are talking about producing energy -- biofuels, forestry, wind power, solar power -- to help make this country more energy independent, then those sources have to be ag-based."
Currently 20 governors and four state legislatures have endorsed 25X25 in an effort to place agriculture in a crucial role of producing more sustainable energy that not only could improve the environment, but also lead to economic development of rural areas.
"For Ohio, there's a real possibility that there could be a tremendous rural development boon under the 25X25 initiative, in addition to the environmental stewardship that goes along with it," said Roberts. "There are a lot of people who believe that renewable energy matters. In their eyes, production of energy with fossil fuels has a side effect on the environment and those side effects make those sources less attractive. Renewable energy reduces or eliminates those side effects."
Roberts said that his presentation during the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference will focus mainly on land issues -- from increasing corn acreage to meet ethanol production demand to pulling land out of environmental programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
"What are the implications of such land use issues under the 25X25 initiative? If you are an agricultural producer, what should you be thinking about in your operation as you move forward?" said Roberts.
Proponents of Ohio's 25X25 initiative include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Ohio Farm Bureau, Ohio Corn Growers Association, Ohio Soybean Association, and the Ohio Department of Development.
The Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference attracts upwards of 650 participants annually from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania. According to a survey conducted during last year's conference, farmers valued the educational programs at $11,400 per farm, totaling $3.4 million, while crop consultants placed a value on their increased knowledge from attending at $15 per acre, totaling $75 million.
Over 60 presenters from seven universities and additional agricultural industries and organizations will be on hand to provide field crop information on insects and diseases, ag technology, nutrient management, soil and water, conservation tillage, and precision farming. Topics include: the 25X25 initiative; soil fertility; scouting; drill adjustment; soybean aphids and slugs; sprayer technology; using RTK (real-time kinetic) technology; going digital; manure application; fertilizer management; soil compaction; water quality; weed control; no-till, strip-till and reduced tillage systems; carbon trading; farm mapping; and twin-row production.
For more information on the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference, or to register, log on to http://ctc.osu.edu, or call the Allen County Soil and Water Conservation District at (419) 223-0040, then press "3."