Precision farming — one of the hot topics in agriculture today — will be the special session for the second annual California Central Coast Cotton Conference to be held Nov. 17-19 at the Cliff's Resort in Shell Beach, Calif.

One of this year's co-sponsors is Western Farm Press.

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

The meeting's primary focus remains production issues and management techniques unique to California — and more specifically the San Joaquin Valley. This year's special section theme is: “Not Just Pretty Pictures — Precision Farming Technology in Cotton Production.”

Lowell Zelinski, former University of California farm advisor and now a private cotton specialist, developed and hosted the first Central Coast Cotton Conference last year. His company, Precision Ag Consulting, along with Bayer CropScience, Monsanto; Gustafson, BASF/Micro Flo Co., InTime, Inc., Britz Fertilizers, Calcot, Inc., Syngenta; Digital Globe AgroWatch and Western Farm Press are sponsoring the conference.

Modeled after university short courses, Zelinski says the conference is designed to assists cotton professionals to further develop their knowledge about cotton production in the San Joaquin Valley. The inaugural conference was such a great success that it's now become an annual event.

Meeting feedback

“We received such great feedback from last year's conference that we knew we had to do it again,” Zelinski said. “We conducted a survey, and both sponsors and attendees said the meeting was informative and fun, and thought that it should become an annual meeting.”

The meeting will include eight hours of instruction that will begin with a review of the 2004 production season, and will cover cotton growth and development, pest management, agronomics and harvest. Pest control advisers and certified agronomists can earn up to eight continuing education credits from these sessions. There will also be a four-hour session on precision farming, which will include a panel discussion from some of today's top experts in the field.

The sessions are presented in a guided-discussion format and will synthesize a large body of past research for farmers, PCAs and agronomists to use in their everyday cotton production decision-making.

Pete Goodell, a University of California integrated pest management specialist, will conduct the pest management session. There will be several speakers on the topic of precision farming including long-time innovative Mississippi farmer and past president of the National Cotton Council, Kenneth Hood. Hood is owner of InTime, Inc., one of the nation's fastest-growing aerial imaging providers.

Satellite imagery

Also on the precision farming bill will be Doug Picanso of Digital Globe, a satellite imagery provider. Additional precision farming speakers will be announced later.

Other changes this year include the addition of an 18-hole golf tournament at the Avila Beach Resort hosted by Bayer CropScience, an opening night reception hosted by BASF/Micro Flo, and a special guest entertainer at the Thursday evening dinner, which is hosted by Monsanto.

Entertainment will be provided by Carl Winter, who has been called the “Artist Formerly Known as Prince of Pesticides” and the “Elvis of E. coli.” Winter is an UC Davis Extension food toxicologist. He writes and performs musical parodies of contemporary popular music making them appropriate to food safety issues such as bacterial contamination, irradiation, biotechnology, government regulation and pesticides. He has appeared throughout the country with his interactive live performances and distributed more than 13,000 of his self-produced CDs throughout the world.

“Since spouses usually attend the dinner, we wanted to provide some entertainment that everyone would enjoy,” Zelinski said. “Carl Winter's songs are hilarious and will really add a nice touch to the conference.”

The conference will begin Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. with the welcome reception and conclude Friday, Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. The two and one-half day conference registration fee is $175 per person and includes all meals for conference participants and a copy of the 2004 Cotton Production Guide.

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

Reservations

Reservations are due Nov. 1 and space is limited. For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.zelinskiag.com, e-mail becky@zelinskiag.com, or call Becky Zelinski, conference coordinator, at (661) 664-6941.

Zelinski has worked in the cotton industry in California, the United States and abroad. He is a well-respected industry leader who has garnered most of his cotton production expertise from working with growers and ag-related programs throughout California. Zelinski 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. He has worked as a farm advisor for the UC Cooperative Extensive Service, directed the agronomic services department for Delta & Pine Land Co. in Scott, Miss., and has been vice president of production and operations for California Planting Cotton Seed Distributors in Shafter. He now owns his own consulting company, Precision Ag Consulting.