Cross-industry sustainable farming conference and trade show returns for its tenth anniversary year
The 10th Annual Sustainable Ag Expo will take place November 17-18 at the Madonna Inn Expo Center in San Luis Obispo, California. The theme of the 2014 Sustainable Ag Expo is “Balancing Water, Soil, and Nutrient Resources for Long Term Sustainability.” (www.SustainableAgExpo.org)
Presented by The Vineyard Team, the Sustainable Ag Expo offers sustainable farming education for growers and farmers across crop types. “The Expo attracts a diverse agricultural audience representing a variety of crops,” said Kris Beal, Executive Director for The Vineyard Team. “From large to small acreage and with a variety of farming philosophies – everyone is welcome. We work hard to ensure that everyone can take home something useful to implement immediately.” To her point, annual attendees historically represent over 225,000 acres of row crops, vineyards and orchards from across the state.
The Sustainable Ag Expo launched in 2004 when the Vineyard Team, actively conducting progressive research and education in vineyards, recognized that other crop industries (e.g. orchards, row crops, berries, and rangeland) engaged in forward-thinking and innovative work. The goal of the Sustainable Ag Expo is to share information across crop types on important topics such as energy and water conservation, holistic management, integrated pest management and soil management.
Balancing technical presentations with plenty of applied, take-home content for growers, the Expo’s theme this year is creating conditions that grow healthy plants in balanced systems, which therefore require fewer inputs. Sessions include irrigating in the drought, soil and plant nutrition management and measurement, sprayer technologies for vineyards and orchards, root/soil dynamics, and updates in pesticide laws and regulations. The event provides continuing education for pesticide advisors and applicators and certified crop advisors.
Vineyard-specific sessions include soil and plant/petiole sampling practices, and interpretation of mineral nutrition reports. Speakers highlight water-use efficiency measures, including the topic of water efficient rootstock and variety selection by Dr. Andrew Walker of UC Davis. The physiology of grapevine nutrition will be covered in detail by Dr. Markus Keller of Washington State University, author of the book The Science of Grapevines. Dr. Joan Davenport, also from Washington State University, will present her most recent work on monitoring grapevine nutrition using new leaf tissue sampling protocols developed in the Pacific Northwest. And a session will be dedicated to advancements in effective spraying, featuring techniques and technologies by Dr. Andrew Landers of Cornell University, author of the book Effective Vineyard Spraying.
In addition to a host of educational opportunities, the Expo features a trade show highlighting sustainability-focused products and services allowing ample time for vendors to network with upper-level ag decision makers.
Referring to the launch of the Sustainable Ag Expo in 2004, Beal said, “Our first year was low-tech, though certainly well-attended. Featuring speakers from outside the area for two days of classroom-style education seminars along with a trade show highlighting innovative products and services was a new format for the area. Ten years later, we’re proud of how this event evolved and continues to be supported by farmers and ag professionals.”
The Vineyard Team is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote sustainable vineyard practices such as water conservation, integrated pest management, habitat diversity, and protection of water quality and human resources. Established in the mid-1990s when the term “sustainable” was far less mainstream than it is today, the Vineyard Team has enjoyed an impressive track record, earning awards and recognition from a broad variety of entities including the Environmental Protection Agency and California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
To learn more about the Sustainable Ag Expo, register for the event, or explore exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.SustainableAgExpo.org.
Visit www.VineyardTeam.org to learn more about the Vineyard Team and its SIP™ (Sustainability in Practice) Certification Program. The Vineyard Team can be reached at 805.466.2288.