It is critical for farmers and others in the industry to stay abreast of the latest technological advances. In many ways, this is easier to do now than even just a few years ago with all the sources of information in the Digital Age. In spite of this, meetings remain one of the best avenues for technology transfer because they provide access to many different sources of information, as well as the opportunity for dialogue.
Louisiana rice farmers are fortunate in that three excellent meetings will be held within driving distance in the next few months. The first of these is the annual USA Rice Outlook Conference, which will be from Dec. 9-11 at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, located in the Central Business District (adjacent to the French Quarter) at 500 Canal St. The Rice Outlook Conference began many years ago as a small meeting where a few university and industry people would get together, review the previous year’s rice production and make projections for the upcoming crop.
Over the past 20 or so years, this meeting has evolved into an industrywide gathering that provides an excellent venue for everyone in the rice industry to obtain useful information in speaker sessions and trade shows, as well as network with other individuals in all facets of rice production, marketing, research, etc. One speaker session includes knowledgeable individuals from each rice-producing state reviewing the previous year’s crop, as well as making projections for the upcoming year. Another has a researcher from each state providing an update on the latest advances in technology resulting from ongoing research projects. Another session provides marketing experts presenting rice economic forecasts. The Outlook Conference attendance has been 500-600 (as least half are rice farmers) for the past few years, and these numbers provide a good indication of the value many individuals place on this meeting. Additional information is available at www.usarice.com.
The 19th Annual National Conservation Systems Cotton & Rice Conference will be Jan. 13-14, 2016, at the Hilton Hotel and Convention Center located at 939 Ridge Lake Blvd in Memphis, Tennessee. This meeting provides a wealth of information on the latest advances in production technology for rice and cotton as well as other crops. The breakout sessions are rather unique in that they team a research/extension specialist and a producer, both speaking on the same topic. This provides an opportunity for a technical expert to discuss the research that has led to a new technology, followed by an innovative producer who discusses his experience with the new technology. Additional information on the tillage conference is available at www.nctd.net.
The 2016 Rice Technical Working Group (RTWG) meeting will be March 1-4 at the Moody Gardens Hotel and Convention Center, 7 Hope Blvd, Galveston, Texas.The RTWG functions according to an informal memorandum of agreement among the State Agricultural Experiment Stations and the Agricultural Extension Services of Arkansas, California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas, and various agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Membership includes personnel in these and other cooperating public agencies and participating industry groups actively engaged in rice research and extension.
Since 1960, research scientists from the U.S. rice industry and from international agencies have participated in the biennial meetings. The RTWG is an organization that provides a platform for rice scientists to meet periodically and exchange information. While most participants are from the United States, the meeting is also attended by rice scientists from numerous foreign countries. The meeting will have concurrent speaker sessions, as well as a number of poster presentations. The concurrent sessions are typically broken down into the following subject areas: breeding, genetics and cytogenetics; rice culture; economics and marketing; plant protection (insects and diseases); processing, storage and quality; and weed control and growth regulation. While the participants at this meeting are primarily scientists, a growing number of innovative rice farmers and consultants have attended the meetings in recent years to obtain information on the latest technology, as well as have an opportunity to interact with rice scientists from around the world. Additional information on the 2016 RTWG can be found at www.rtwg.net.
New technology and ideas are constant in the rice world. Attending any or all of these meetings would be time well spent for anyone involved in the Louisiana rice industry.