On the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley a tractor, running at night, fitted with a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, is making beds for a new crop in precisely the same space the previous beds existed. Following that identical path the buried drip irrigation system is undisturbed as the tractor moves across the field and the new crop's irrigation will be as efficient as the old.

The success of this tractor guidance system is just one of the many presentations that will be featured at the Fourth Annual FarmTech Conference, Feb. 4-6, 2001 at the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Technology holds the key to successful farming for the 21st century. That's the focus of the 2001 FarmTech Conference. Growers who make the most of today's technological innovations will be the agricultural leaders and successful agri-businessmen of the new millennium, just as the men and women who made the transition from horse-drawn plows to tractors were the farming leaders after the turn of the century.

For the farmer using the GPS guided tractor the savings from using less equipment and labor, keeping his drip irrigation tape in the ground for more seasons, and being able to cultivate closer to his plants so that he uses less herbicide, is substantial.

Applying technologies James Krause, a Reedley, Calif., grower involved in global stonefruit production, has attended the FarmTech Conference for the last two years. He says, "We are enjoying great success in applying the technologies we have learned at FarmTech 1999 and 2000. We are applying these tools in the U.S., Chile, Australia, and Spain as part of a total systems approach to delivering high quality stone fruit to the consumer. The total systems approach includes tools we have adopted following FarmTech conferences." Krause will be on hand at FarmTech 2001 to describe his successful implementation of new farming technologies.

Whether the technology focuses on new chemistry to protect crops; biotechnology to produce higher yielding seed; spatial data analysis to reduce the cost of farming inputs; cost-effective field, orchard and vineyard equipment; remote sensing for land use planning and disease detection; water-saving irrigation applications; predictive weather stations or the latest information-gathering techniques; it's profitable use is not only covered at the FarmTech Conference, but growers can meet with the suppliers there one-on-one.

With the backing of major sponsors like Western Growers Insurance Services, Farm Credit, Novartis Crop Protection, Beeline Navigator, EarthScan and Toro Ag Irrigation to offset costs, attendance at the FarmTech Conference 2001 is priced to be reasonable for all size farming operations.