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MU Extension to Showcase Warm-Season Grasses in June Farm Tours

University of Missouri Extension will hold a Barry County farm tour in mid-June to highlight three successful farm operations that use warm-season grasses in their forage programs. The free tour starts at 4 p.m. on Monday, June 17.

“Gene Cowherd and Rex and Jaron Myers, all of Purdy, Mo., have very successful native warm-season grass stands that are being used in their hay operations,” said MU Extension agronomy specialist Tim Schnakenberg. “Their stands are dominated with big bluestem and Indiangrass.”

Heat- and drought-tolerant warm-season native grasses provide forage for cattle, especially during the summer slump when temperatures rise, rainfall diminishes and cool-season pastures wane, said Schnakenberg. “They also can be outstanding options for high-yielding hay, requiring less fertilizer than other forages and harvested at drier times of the year than when fescue should be harvested.”

Mike and Janan Meier of Monett, Mo., also part of the tour, have been using improved varieties of crabgrass for their former dairy operation and now their beef operation. They have many years of experience using crabgrass as a summer grazing tool.

During the tour, Schnakenberg and the producers will discuss how to convert to warm-season grasses and how to manage them once established. They’ll cover other benefits such as nutrient needs, reduced endophyte exposure and improved summer grazing and hay production.

A meal will be provided, compliments of the MU and Missouri Department of Conservation Native Grass Group. Other event sponsors include the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Barry County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Source : missouri.edu

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EVENT PREVIEW: You Can Help Reimagine Plant Breeding at the 2024 NAPB Meeting

Video: EVENT PREVIEW: You Can Help Reimagine Plant Breeding at the 2024 NAPB Meeting

Martin Bohn can’t wait to welcome people to the 2024 meeting of the National Association of Plant Breeders meeting being held in St. Louis, Miss., July 21-25. This year’s meeting, hosted by Bayer Crop Science and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, promises to be one of the NAPB’s most important yet, evident in its theme Rethink, Reimagine and Revolutionize.

While the main conference will be held at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, it will feature a tour of the nearby University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign facilities. Bohn serves not only as co-organizer of the meeting, but as crop sciences professor at the university.

“The conference theme revolves around rethinking, reimagining, and revolutionizing plant breeding. We’ve witnessed significant technological advancements over the past decade, with an abundance of genetic, phenotypic, and environmental data becoming more accessible, alongside the integration of artificial intelligence into data science, opening up new possibilities,” Bohn says.

During the conference, attendees will examine these advancements, reassess the field, and explore how we can adapt to or leverage them. The event will feature three sessions: Reimagining, Rethinking, and Revolutionizing, with speakers delving into each theme. Audience participation is encouraged, with lively Q&A sessions expected.

The climax will be the Revolutionize session, featuring speakers from St. Louis startup companies at the forefront of plant breeding innovation, all hailing from the St. Louis Innovation Hub. It promises to be an exciting showcase of cutting-edge ideas, Bohn says. Ultimately, the conference aims to inspire attendees with the innovative work happening at the University of Illinois and beyond.

Bohn is looking forward to showing off the facilities at the university, where there exists a thriving plant breeding program. Visitors are in for a treat.

“When you’re coming from St. Louis to the university, you might expect to see a lot of corn and soybeans, but there’s much more in store. We’ve put together a diverse program featuring various facets of agricultural innovation,” he says.

“Throughout the day, we’ll showcase national initiatives focused on advanced bioenergy and bioproduct innovation. We’ll also explore autonomous farming, environmental resilience, and soil quality at two different stops.”

You’ll get a peek into the USDA Maize Genetics Cooperation Stock Center, home to crucial genetic stocks for corn breeding, and the USDA Soybean Germplasm Collection. Additionally, the tour will highlight the CornBox, a project by some of Bohn’s colleagues which is their version of a sandbox to test innovations for digital agriculture in a live corn field. Visitors will also see the breeding programs spanning soybeans, corn, small grains, hemp, and more.

“One highlight close to my heart is our organic farming systems breeding program. We’ll also tour our student farm, featuring research on vegetable production systems and how robotics aid in managing insects. And let’s not forget about our local startup companies at the University of Illinois Research Park, showcasing their latest research and products,” Bohn adds.

Visitors will wrap up the day at Riggs Beer Company, known for using locally grown seeds and grains. Their motto, “On our farm, we grow beer,” sets the tone for a relaxed Q&A session with the brewery’s owner and team, accompanied by great food and, of course, some beer.

Of course, organizing a conference like this is no small feat; it’s a monumental task that requires careful coordination and collaboration.

“Initially, I thought it would be as simple as putting together a program and inviting speakers, but it’s far more complex than that. Many moving parts need to come together seamlessly to make it a success,” Bohn says.

The beauty lies in sharing the workload among many shoulders, ensuring that no single organization or individual bears the burden alone. The meeting is being co-hosted by Bayer Crop Science.

“Working together toward a common goal of hosting the best conference possible is a tremendous opportunity to build relationships. I truly believe that the connections we forge with our colleagues and partners at Bayer will endure beyond this event,” Bohn says.

“Working with Bayer has been eye-opening. While we often operate within the confines of academia, collaborating with a company brings a fresh perspective on what matters in the real world. It’s invigorating to explore shared interests and embark on collaborative projects together.”