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No-Till Notes: 'Colorado Conservation Tillage Association' Conference


On the 3rd and 4th of February, 2015 I’ll be attending the 27th Annual High Plains No-till Conference. The conference is hosted by the Colorado Conservation Tillage Association and is held each year at the Community Center in Burlington, Colorado. I’ve spoken at this conference in the past and have attended the conference over the past several years. This year I will get to just sit back, listen, and learn from some excellent speakers lined up to present at this year’s conference.

I enjoy this conference as it is a smaller version of the No Till on the Plains winter conference. The CCTA conference attracts 400-500 producers. The majority of the attendees and speakers are from western Kansas, western Nebraska, and eastern Colorado. This conference is geared more toward no-till crop production in our semi-arid environment. The topics pertain more towards the crops we produce and farming practices we use on farms in our region.

The key note speakers for this year’s conference are Steve Siemens and Dr. Kris Nichols. I’ve never heard Steve Siemens speak, but from what I gather I think his talks are going to be pretty intriguing and motivational. Steve bills himself as “The People Builder”. The CCTA brochure for the conference says Steve will look at the challenges in today’s world of agriculture and how to view these challenges as opportunities. He challenges his audience to find ways to put the fun back in agriculture with his humorous, interactive, and motivational style.

Steve notes in the flyer, “Very few people like to change and it seems the older people get the harder it is for them to change. We live in a world full of change. If people and organizations are going to stay on the cutting edge, they must have a willingness to take risks, fail, try new things, and change. Once you have stepped across the line, gotten out of the box, and started thinking differently, you will be one of those people who will change. You will discover that when you’re through changing, you’re through.”

I’ve heard and visited with Dr. Kris Nichols on several occasions. We had Dr. Nichols speak at one of our conferences several years ago. Back then, Dr. Nichols was with the USDA Agricultural Research Laboratory in Mandan, North Dakota. Dr. Nichols has since moved to Chief Scientist at the Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Nichols received Bachelor of Science degrees in Plant Biology and in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota in 1995, a Master’s degree in Environmental Microbiology from West Virginia University, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland. Dr. Nichols has studied arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. She has concentrated her recent studies on glomalin which is a substance produced by the A.M. fungi. Glomalin contributes to soil structure and soil aggregate formation and stabilization.

There are also numerous breakout sessions during this conference. I’ve looked over the lineup of speakers during the breakout sessions and there are numerous topics during these presentations that really appeal to me. Some of the topics being covered are:

Marketing strategies for improved farm profits

Swath grazing in the high plains and grazing 101

The soil food web and what it means to your bottom line

Resource conservation pays

Understanding the importance of diversity in cropping systems

To learn more about the speakers and sessions and to register for the conference go to If you haven’t been to this conference you will find it very educational. The Colorado Conservation Tillage Association does a great job of organizing and running a first rate two-day conference. I’m sure you will agree with me that taking the time and effort to attend this conference will be well worth it. I’ll look forward to seeing you in Burlington, Colorado.


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