POCATELLO, Idaho-Efficiency, sustainability and profitability will be the focus of the University of Idaho's 41st Annual Potato Conference Jan. 21-22 in Pocatello.
"What we're seeing in the world right now is volatility," said Nora Olsen, conference chair and Extension potato specialist. "If we can stabilize ourselves through efficiency and good sustainability practices, we'll be able to better deal with the current economic turmoil."
John Keeling, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Potato Council, will address the conference's keynote Sustainability Symposium on Wednesday morning.
Keeling says the NPC is helping growers wade through conflicting sets of sustainability measures by developing sustainability guidelines that will be "consistent and workable at the farm level and provide measurable results for others in the supply chain."
"Sustainability and economic viability have to be directly linked in any description of sustainable farming," Keeling said. "The principles that have kept successful farming families on the farm for generations are the core principles of sustainability."
That means sustainability guidelines "must reflect what farming has always been about-improved efficiency over time. Whether the benchmarks are protection of wildlife habitat, application of plant protection products or calculation of carbon foot print, sustainability is about improving efficiency over decades-not individual growing seasons."
Other conference seminars will address the economic downturn's impacts on the U.S. potato industry, market changes, market cooperatives, rising production costs, exports to Mexico, fertilizer cost reduction, early-planting risks, overlooked plant diseases, nematode management and observations regarding the past field season.
In addition, intensive workshops will cover such topics as bed planting under sprinkler irrigation, new variety production, long-term impacts of short rotations, production and economics of organic potatoes, accessing market information on the Web, precision planting, production cost analysis, humic acids, field burning, pesticide disposal and Good Agricultural Practices audits.
Workshops on managing weeds, insects, diseases, manures, irrigation, harvest and storage are also on the docket.
Potato packers can learn about food safety and lean manufacturing while Hispanic farmworkers can attend Spanish-language workshops on noxious weeds, insects, bruising, diseases, fungicides, herbicides, bee protection and the university's new Field Guide to Potato Pests in English and Spanish.
The Potato Conference, held at Idaho State University's Pond Student Union Building, is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, and 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22. In-state registration is $15 until Jan. 9 and $20 at the door. Out-of-state participants pay $75 until Jan. 9 and $90 at the door.
The conference is presented in cooperation with the Idaho Potato Commission, Potato Growers of Idaho, Spectra Productions, Raw Products Committee of Idaho, Idaho Center for Potato Research and Education, Idaho Grower Shippers Association, Idaho State University, Association of Commerce and Industry and trade fair exhibitors.
More information is available online at
http://extension.ag.uidaho.edu/district4/Potato%20Conference/potato.html or by calling 208-529-8376.
The Idaho Crop Improvement Association's Idaho Seed Potato Grower's Seminar will precede the conference from noon to 5 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Red Lion Hotel in Pocatello.