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35th annual Western Dakota Crops Day to present latest in research

Soil science is one of the areas of research done at NDSU extension centers. Stock photo.

The 35th annual Western Dakota Crops Day, hosted by the North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center, will be held at the Hettinger Armory on Dec. 20.

John Rickertsen, a research agronomist with the Hettinger Extension Center and instrumental in coordinating the event, outlined the scheduled events and topics of discussion farmers, ranchers, producers and interested parties alike will receive from expert guest speakers in their related fields.

"We'd love to see a great turn-out this year, because we really have some important information that can really help people from the western Dakotas manage those issues which have been bubbling here for a while," he said. "We will have some amazing speakers, including Chris Augustin from Minot and Dwayne Beck from Pierre, South Dakota."

Chris Augustin is an NDSU Extension Soil Health specialist at the North Central Extension Center in Minot. Augustin is slated to present information on soil issues facing western Dakota producers, including saline and sodic soil concerns.

"Augustin will also be discussing the decreasing soil pH mainly caused by near-surface application of ammonium-based fertilizers on soils which have relatively low cation exchange capacity," Rickertsen said.

Dwayne Beck serves as manager of Dakota Lakes Research Farm, located east of Pierre, S.D., where he has been actively involved in cropping systems research using low disturbance no-till and diverse rotations since the late 80s. Beck's research explores the important role of diverse crop rotations in minimizing weed, disease and insect issues while increasing potential profitability.

"Beck will discuss his most current research, including no-till, diverse crop rotations, cover crops, intercropping and grazing livestock as a holistic management approach to regenerative agriculture," Rickertsen said. "All around this year is going to feature some really important information."

In addition to the two key speakers, Crops Day will feature commercial exhibits by several seed, chemical and agriculture service companies displaying their newest products and innovations.

"There's going to be a whole host of professionals there to answer questions and provide tips based on the latest research," Rickertsen said.

Agronomy research results from the western Dakotas will be presented by Rickertsen; Caleb Dalley, an NDSU Hettinger Extension weed scientist; Ryan Beutow, an NDSU Dickinson Extension cropping systems specialist; Chris Graham, a South Dakota State University West River Extension agronomist; and Patrick Wagner, a South Dakota State University Extension entomology field specialist.

Rickerston said he schedules the event to time with the end of a vast majority of the field work for both researchers and producers, and has normally slated the event for the third week in December.

The post-harvest winter offseason, according to Rickertson, is the best timeframe to attract more producers to the event. Rickertson said it is nice to get the Crop Day event scheduled early in the offseason so the information can be shared with locals before moving into the next planting season.

"This year's Crops Day will provide excellent new information on soil health, the latest in cropping systems research and traditional variety performance research," Rickertsen said. "This will be our 35th year that we've been doing this, and we really want to highlight some of the amazing research that's been done over the past year."

The event is free of charge, and lunch will be provided by sponsors of the event. The event begins at 9 a.m. with coffee and doughnuts, followed by the presentations beginning at 10 a.m. Participants will be free to visit exhibits and visit with vendors and speakers throughout the day.