How do the Beltwide Cotton Conferences contribute?
The BWCC provides the findings from cutting edge research and technology aimed at increasing productivity. The performances, both good and bad, of crop inputs and production systems are examined along with other cotton production challenges and opportunities.
Specifically, the BWCC facilitates interaction among leading scientists, consultants, Extension/agribusiness personnel and county agents. Their discussion of the latest research findings not only aids in the fine-tuning of research efforts and product development but also in the immediate application of innovative and proven production techniques and tools.
For example, the 2018 BWCC Cotton Consultants Conference featured two detailed presentations on dicamba and 2,4-D technology. Attendees were told that dicamba applicator training will be a key in stewardship of that product for the coming season but will not solve all of that herbicide’s drift or volatility issues. That session also provided updates on Bollgard III use, guidance for controlling thrips, lygus, bacterial blight, nematodes and cotton root rot. Presentations were also given on growing cotton economically, preventing seed cotton/lint prevention and critical regulatory issues that threaten U.S. cotton production’s viability.
What about the 2018 BWCC research conferences?
These technical conferences provided attendees the opportunity to hear what’s in the pipeline such as traits in new plant varieties and the latest chemistries and equipment. For example, the Agronomy, Physiology and Soil Sciences Conference featured presentations on such critical practices as herbicide timing, cover crops and soil moisture/conservation. Also discussed were harvest aids, irrigation and fertilization issues such as potassium intake and nitrogen application rates. That conference also covered precision agriculture, including the use of unmanned aircraft systems sometimes known as drones. In fact, the 2018 BWCC concluded with a special workshop, “Risk & Reward: Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Agricultural Producers.” It sought to help participants 1) achieve an improved understanding of flight regulations, types of platforms and sensors, data processing, potential agricultural uses, and liability issues related to UAS and 2) get equipped to make improved decisions to match the UAS that best suits their needs.
Some technical conferences continued their graduate student oral and poster presentation competitions at the 2018 BWCC. Their recognition of students in the various research disciplines also is helping the U.S. cotton industry benefit from the saturation of a steady flow of innovations and research findings. I believe this information is helping producers optimize their production efficiency. As evidence, I point to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent projection of record-setting yields for the 2017 U.S. cotton crop.
Manuscripts from more than 400 reports given at the 2018 BWCC will be published in the Proceedings. Links to the BWCC Proceedings and some recorded presentations are available online at www.cotton.org/beltwide/. I encourage our industry members to access this information. It can be a substantial resource for making critical on-farm management decisions. In the meantime, cotton research findings will again be shared at the 2019 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, Jan. 8-10, in New Orleans.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.