seal  Purdue News

June 20, 2003

GPS, high-tech issues way up there at Top Farmer Crop Workshop

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Farmers utilizing global positioning systems-type technology in crop production might want to position themselves on the Purdue University campus for four days in July.

GPS, geographic information systems, remote sensing, yield monitoring, auto steering, precise soil testing and similar high-tech farm equipment will be examined from all angles during the Top Farmer Crop Workshop. The 36th annual event takes place July 20-23 in Purdue's Stewart Center, West Lafayette, Ind.

The workshop features 50 sessions on farm topics as diverse as accounting techniques and weather trends. Nearly 60 speakers are scheduled, including ag industry professionals, farmers and specialists from Purdue and other land-grant universities. The keynote speaker for the July 22 evening banquet is Jim Moseley, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indiana farmer.

More than 7,000 farmers have attended Top Farmer since its inception, said Howard Doster, Purdue agricultural economist and workshop coordinator.

"We have, from the beginning, been a crop farming systems workshop," Doster said. "This is the best workshop we've ever put together. I am really impressed with the quality of the presenters and the topics."

Special emphasis is placed on farming technology this year, Doster said. Of the 50 workshop sessions planned, 16 are directly related to site-specific issues that might fit new provisions within the 2002 Farm Bill.

"We have speakers addressing different aspects of site-specific farming, or precision ag," he said. "Some of them are former students, some have been to the workshop before and some are new to the workshop. In one session, we'll present new statistical measures, which will make the analysis of site-specific information much more practical and useful."

Other workshop sessions of note are:

• "He Has Seventeen 50/50 Landlords" – Indiana farmer Garland Antrim discusses how he continues his long tenure crop share leases with so many landowners.

• "Plant Corn Two Days Earlier!" – Natarajan Balachander, Landec Ag researcher, outlines the benefits of the seed coating he helped develop.

• "U.S. Soybean Competitiveness in a Dynamic Market" – John Becherer, chief executive officer of the United Soybean Board, explains how check-off dollars are spent.

• "On-Farm Carbon Sequestration?" – Bruce McCarl, regents professor and ag economist at Texas A&M University, compares the economics of this production practice with alternative ways industries might obtain carbon credits.

• "Bringing in the Neighbor's Son" and "They Get in and Out of This Partnership" – Six Indiana farmers and an Illinois certified public accountant share ways to introduce the next generation into the farm operation.

"Again this year, farmers may use a Purdue computer to test before they invest in changes in their crop rotation, machinery size, tillage system and/or farm size," Doster said. "Previous attendees have often increased their farm size significantly. With larger combines on the market, most farmers have opportunities to continue to increase the acreage they farm."

Farmers are encouraged to register early for the workshop so they have time to gather data for the computer analysis.

"The people who learn the most from this workshop are those who are farming 1,000 to 1,200 acres," Doster said. "They know how to raise corn and soybeans, but they haven't yet figured out how to grow their operation and go with larger, and still larger, equipment. They're not big enough today to be competitive, but they're good enough that if they could just put all the pieces together they could grow and be competitive."

Registration for the Top Farmer Crop Workshop is $250 per person and $75 for each additional person from the same farm. Registration fees include two meals, coffee breaks and the use of Purdue computers for the cost analysis. Lodging and other meals are extra.

Enrollment is limited and is recommended by July 10. To register, contact Tom Robertson of Purdue's Conference Division at (765) 494-7220 or by fax at (765) 494-0567.

Reservations at the Purdue Memorial Union Club Hotel should be made by July 3 in order to confirm accommodations. The hotel is adjacent to Stewart Center. The hotel's toll-free number is (800) 320-6291.

For more information about workshop sessions and speakers, contact Doster at (765) 494-4250, (765) 412-1495 or by e-mail at Additional details also are available on the event Web site.

Writer: Steve Leer, (765) 494-8415,

Source: Howard Doster, (765) 494-4250, (765) 412-1495,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,;


Related Web site:
Purdue University Department of Agricultural Economics

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