This year's Central Coast Cotton Conference Nov. 17-19 at the Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach, Calif., will feature a variety of speakers on subjects from cotton agronomics to the latest innovations in precision farming.

The conference will begin Wednesday evening with a welcome reception at 6 p.m. Registration begins at 5 p.m. The sessions begin Thursday morning at 7:30 a.m. and conclude Friday at 4 p.m.

The first session will include a review of the 2004 production year and a segment on cotton growth and development conducted by Lowell Zelinski, a plant physiologist with nearly 25 years experience in the cotton industry in California and the U.S. He has a master's degree in ag science from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo and a doctorate in soil science from the University of California, Davis. Zelinski has worked as a U.C. Cooperative Extension farm advisor, a private consultant, and in management for two cotton seed companies. He now owns his own business, Precision Ag Consulting. Zelinski will also lead the Friday afternoon session on agronomics.

Session two will focus on pest management and be led by Pete Goodell. Goodell is an integrated pest management specialist for the University of California Extension Service with 23 years of noteworthy experience. He specializes in cotton and associated row crops and currently works out of the Kearney Agricultural Research Center. Goodell has a master's and a doctorate degree in entomology and nematology from the University of California, Riverside.

Precision farming

The precision farming session, which is the keynote session for this year's conference, will be covered by representatives from that industry. The panel discussion will be held Friday, Nov. 19 from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The speaker lineup and topics are as follows:

In the field with precision farming — Kenneth Hood, grower, chairman of InTime, Inc., and past president of the National Cotton Council of America. Hood is a successful cotton grower from the Mississippi Delta. He is a partner in Perthshire Farms — a family farm that produces cotton as its major crop. He is also the president of Hood Equipment Co. and Hood Gin Co. He became involved with precision farming in 2003 when he began working with InTime president Michael Seal and marketing director Kelly Dupont. The three men developed the “InTime process” with the NASA Institute for Technology Development and now provide aerial images and variable rate technology for ground and aerial use. The company began in 2003 and its services became available to California cotton growers in 2004.

Getting the picture — Doug Picanso, manager of the Western States Region for DigitalGlobe AgroWatch based out of Longmont, Colo. Picanso has a master's degree in agronomy and 22 years experience developing new technology for the agriculture industry. He went to work for DigitalGlobe in 2002, where he is in charge of sales and product development for vegetative products. DigitalGlobe is a high-quality earth imagery and geo-spatial information products company. The AgroWatch division delivers images in the form of color-coded field maps to growers and consultants to assist them in making production decisions.

Every picture tells a story (processing and interpretation) — Kelly Dupont, director of sales and marketing for InTime, Cleveland, Miss. Dupont has a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering technology and business from Mississippi State University and has worked with remote sensing technology since 1997. He began his career working with NASA at the Institute for Technology Development and was instrumental in the development of the InTime process, along with Kenneth Hood and Michael Seal. Dupont now heads up product outreach and support and new market development for InTime.

Proper guidance (precision guidance equipment) — Michael Gomes, vice president of Technical Services for Precision Farming Enterprises, Woodland, Calif. Gomes has a bachelor's degree in agri-business from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo and a master's degree in business from Golden Gate University. He has worked in ag equipment sales for more than eight years and has expertise in applying electronics to specialty crops. Precision Farming Enterprises provides information technology solutions to the agriculture industry in the western states and beyond.

Making the Application - variable rate application tools — Tim Stone, precision ag coordinator for Britz Fertilizers, Fresno, Calif. Stone has worked with precision agriculture for five years — the last three using satellite data for creating zone maps. He is working towards a master's degree in geomatics. Britz Fertilizers is a locally-owned and operated fertilizer and pesticide distributor in the San Joaquin Valley.

Industry updates

On Friday afternoon, there will be an industry updates session with representatives from Bayer CropScience, Monsanto, BASF, MicroFlo, Gustafson, Calcot, Syngenta, AutoFarm, and ORO Agri. Representatives from West Hills Community College and California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo will also make presentations about their precision farming programs.

The Central Coast Cotton Conference is an in-depth look at cotton production practices in the San Joaquin Valley and a continuing education course for pest control advisers and certified agronomists.

Registration is $175 and includes all meals and events for attendees. For spouses and guests it is an additional $50. Advance reservations are requested. There is a late registration fee of $25 for reservations received after Nov. 15.

The Cliffs Resort is offering discounted, ocean-view rooms for $134 per night based upon availability, and stays can be extended through the weekend. Hotel reservations are available at the Cliffs by calling (800) 826-7827 or by visiting www.cliffsresort.com. Be sure to ask for the discounted conference rate.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.cottonconference.com, write to info@zelinskiag.com, or call conference coordinator, Becky Zelinski at (805) 434-0113.