Conference On Wireless Soil Moisture Sensors Set For Sikeston, Mo.

   A specialized conference and tradeshow, dedicated ENTIRELY to wireless soil moisture sensors, will be held on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 in Sikeston, MO at the Miner Convention Center. This conference will bring in some of the top experts on soil moisture sensors from around the country, plus host a tradeshow featuring leading manufacturers of this equipment. Registration starts at 8:15 AM; the presentation portion of the event will adjourn at 4:00 PM, after which participants are invited to a farm visit 12 miles away (Randy Arington farm south of Bertrand) for a watermelon feed and to see installed sensor units.
   There will also be a special field trip (landlords’ only) the next evening, Wednesday, Aug. 12th starting at 5:00 PM. See below for more information on it.
   The events are organized by Rick DeLoughery, Mississippi County Regional Agronomist, and Joe Henggeler, State Extension Irrigation Specialist, with the help of Mississippi County farmer Randy Arington. DeLoughery and Arington are seen in Figure 1.
   Featured Speaker Describes why Nebraska is No. 1 in Sensor Use
   Nebraska is now the number one user of soil moisture sensors in the country, having surpassed California about five years ago (Fig. 2). The fact that Nebraska even managed to pass California in the sensor footrace is amazing since the Corn Husker state grows mid-Western, meat-and-potato types of crops like corn, soybean, and alfalfa, whereas California has a plethora of vegetables, fruit and nut trees, vineyards and other high management crops – not to mention the millions of dollars in support that the state has poured in. Note that the use by the remaining states (Fig. 2) is about 1/3rd of that of Nebraska.
   Randy Pryor, a veteran of 30 years’ service as a county agent in Saline County (s.e. Nebraska), is part of the team that led Corn Husker irrigators in becoming the nation’s top soil moisture sensor user. Mr. Pryor (Fig. 3) will be the keynote speaker at the conference. He will explain how Extension, local water districts, and university research helped make this possible, and that today around 1,300 irrigators have joined the project with very few --once they’re involved-- ever dropping out! He will share BMP tips on using sensors gained from his work with farmers and research.
   EQIP Cost Share Program to be Discussed
   Government programs are available, and they can positively affect irrigation practices. A case in point is surge flow in Missouri. While only the 13th state in irrigated acres, the Show Me state is the 3rd largest in surge flow. EQIP and state incentives fanned the use of surge valves and its benefit: survey data show that surge flow on furrow fields increases yields (corn by 10%, cotton by 14%, and full-season soybeans by 5%).
   After lobbing for nearly ten years, it appears soil moisture sensors will now be listed as an eligible EQIP practice in 2016. The new EQIP guidelines and information on signups will be presented by Robyn Sitzes and John Hester. The economics, whether with EQIP support or not, is very rosy and a presentation on that topic will be made.
   Tuesday Conference/Tradeshow Details
   PLEASE NOTE that the conference and tradeshow is Tuesday, August 11, starting at 8:15 AM with registration. The location is the Miner Convention Center (off of Exit 67 on I-55). Adjournment of the conference portion of the event will be at 4:00 PM, at which time attendees are invited to proceed on their own 12 miles to a farm visit with a watermelon feed and chance to view sensor units in the field at the Randy Arington farm south of Bertrand, MO (maps will be available at the conference). Company reps will be available there, and a pump efficiency and safety demonstration will be made. Two stainless steel driveshaft guards will be given away as door prizes. The farm visit ends at 5:30 PM.
   The cost for the conference and trade show will be $25 if pre-registered, or $30 at the door. Lunch will be provided by Tasteful Creations Catering featuring Chef Karen Campbell at the ladle. For more information contact Rick DeLoughery ( or Joe Henggeler ( Preregister for the conference/tradeshow using this secure registration site:
   Wednesday Evening Landlords’ Farm Tour Details
   This educational event is for landlords of irrigated land only, and will be held at the beautiful Glenn Restaurant south of Charleston, MO (2460 S Highway 105, Charleston, MO). Dinner will be provided and a presentation on the economic costs/benefits for farmers/landlords who use wireless soil moisture
sensor technology to schedule irrigation will be discussed. The presentation will discuss expected yield increases, suggestions on sharing of costs between farmer/landlord, and the 2016 EQIP program. Presenters will be Ray Massey (Extension Professor [agricultural economics] University of MO, Columbia) and Robyn Sitzes (Resource Conservationist, NRCS, Charleston, MO).
   After dinner a trip is planned to the Randy Arington farm 9 miles away that is using various types of sensors. Dealers will be available to talk to at the dinner and on the brief stops during the farm trip. Participants on the trip will not have to leave their car.
Cost is $10 each, seating is limited, and pre-registration is required. Preregister for the landlords’ tour using this secure registration site: ∆

 Figure 1. Farmer Randy Arington (left) and Rick DeLoughery at the site where wireless sensors will be
 displayed following the Tuesday conference's adjournment on Tues. Aug. 11. A special tour 
 for landlords will take place the next evening on Wed., Aug. 12.

 Figure 2. Percentage of irrigated farms that use soil moisture sensors to schedule irrigation for NE, CA, and average of the remaining states.

 Figure 3. Randy Pryor (center) with a water district employee (left) and fellow agent (right) preparing to make an installation using Watermarks and a data logger similar to units that will be seen at the tradeshow and farm visit.

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