By KEVIN WALKER
FRANKENMUTH, Mich. — The second annual Underground Innovations conference will be held Dec. 11-12 in Frankenmuth, Mich.
The two-day conference will focus on cover crops, strip-till, no-till, relay cropping, intercropping, precision technology and new crop markets. Relay cropping means planting a second crop on top of another crop that is already growing but not yet harvested, said Tim Boring, vice president of the Michigan Agribusiness Assoc., the event organizer.
“It's going to be focused on soil health, farm management, and new market opportunities for crops like canola, hemp and barley,” Boring said.
Boring had some special comments on the potential for hemp as a value added crop, since hemp has been much in the news lately.
“There's certainly interest around hemp,” Boring said of the plant used to make CBD oil, a product touted to treat everything from anxiety to arthritis. “I think people should be cautious. I'm not sure about the demand, but people are interested, so we're going to have someone here to talk about it.”
At last year's conference, many of the topics were similar, with speakers from all over the Midwest and Canada. This year, presenters include Blake Vince, a fifth generation farmer and Canadian Nuffield Scholar from Merlin, Ontario, Canada; Mark Hasenick, who farms with his family on 4,800 acres in Springport, Mich., raising corn, soybeans and wheat; Lucas Criswell of Lewisburg, Pa., who grows a variety of grain crops on 1,500 acres in east central Pennsylvania; and several others.
Boring will be one of the speakers as well, talking primarily about his experiences integrating cover crops into the rotation, including precision placement, delayed termination and various establishment techniques for interseeding into corn. For Boring, the purpose of the conference is to help spread information about cutting edge farming techniques, but it's also about farmers building relationships with each other.
“The idea is to help farmers network with each other better,” he said. “I think farmers will find the topics interesting, but just as important are the networking opportunities this event will provide.”
Other presenters include Dustin Mulock of Woodville, Ontario, Canada; Ryan and Melissa Shaw of Decker, Mich.; Ryan and Brianne Rademacher of Westphalia, Mich.; and Nathan Clarke of Coleman, Mich. There will also be a presentation on crop insurance by Elliot Alfredson, Eagle Valley Ag Risk Advisors on Thursday, Dec. 12. Also on Thursday, Tyler Rupprecht of Zwerk & Sons Farms will give a presentation on opportunities in hemp, Whitney Thompson of Origin Malt will give a presentation on barley; and Scott McLean and Chad Quinlan of ADM Windsor will give a talk on canola. Finally, Steve Herr of Star of the West Milling will give a talk on dry beans.
The conference will be held December 11 starting at 9:30am and conclude at 4pm December 12, and will held at the Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth, Mich. Early registration for the event is $95 until Dec. 5; after that tickets are $115. Event goers are welcome at the door. For more information, contact Tim Boring at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (517) 930-5505.