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Agrimarketing : September 2012
In 1982, the looming farm crisis and controversial acreage idling programs commanded ag industry headlines. No-till was virtually a fringe movement, and nearly every farmer in the U.S. had a moldboard plow or heavy disk oiled up and ready to go. That year, according to USDA's National Resources Inventory, 40% of America's cropland was eroding faster than soil scientists figured was sustainable. Agriculture needed a focal point for information about conservation, a middle ground where farmers, agri-business, government, academics and associations could come together to find information on no-till, test new conservation tillage technologies, and demonstrate the benefits and challenges of farming with less tillage --- or none at all. Boosted by a $50,000 grant from the Joyce Foundation, as well as staff and organizational infrastructure provided by the National Association of Conservation Districts, the Conservation Tillage Information Center (CTIC) was born. In all, 35 corporate members, four federal agencies, 50 state agencies, 13 institutional or service organizations, 3,000 conservation districts and more than 900 farmers formed the foundation of CTIC, which has grown into a global hub for agricultural conservation information today. INFORMATION HUB "There are not many conservation groups that can bring those people together," notes Rex Martin, Syngenta's Head of Industry Relations and current CTIC Board Chairman. "And the backbone of our network is the farmers working on conservation projects, on the ground in watersheds around the country." An early CTIC project recruited more than 950 farmers to serve on a no-till hotline, fielding questions from fellow growers interested in trying or mastering conservation tillage. For more than two decades, the Center gathered detailed data on conservation tillage adoption nationwide, and challenged growers to explore the economic bene- fits of no-till through its MAX (Farming for Maximum Efficiency) profitability analysis program. CTIC also began collecting conservation tillage resources in a computerized database --- years before the 1990 invention of the World Wide Web and the 1993 introduction of the first web browser --- and translated dense academic papers into farmer- friendly fact sheets. CTIC's Partners newsletter quickly became a bible, and a voice, for thousands of conservation farming advocates. GROWING SCOPE In 1987, CTIC officially changed the "T" in its acronym to stand for "Technology" instead of "Tillage," highlighting a growing appreciation of the broad impacts of conservation tillage on water and air quality as well as soil. "The initial thing was to save soil, toil and oil," says Dick Foell, who served as CTIC's first Chairman when he was Paraquat herbicide Product Manager for Chevron. "Other things evolved with time and creativity and individuals pointing out all the other things that came out of conservation." CTIC's "Know Your Watershed" program played a major role in establishing the nation's first watershed groups, tapped into the growing internet to create a searchable National Watershed Network, and complemented EPA's "Surf Your Watershed" program. (Twelve years after its funding ran out, Know Your Watershed remains one of the most-visited sections of www.ctic.org.) Fueled by federal and state grants as well as member support, CTIC developed white papers and training manuals on an array of water and air quality issues. In 2008, the Center co-hosted an international conference on carbon sequestration with the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO). AM 26 Agri Marketing September 2012 AGRICULTURAL ASSOCIATIONS CTIC: 30 YEARS OF CONSERVATION by Steve Werblow, Werblow Communications ( ) Gianessi, Jack Majeres, Alan Ayers, Larry Clemens, Stephen Timmons, Pauley Bradley, Lara Moody and Ron Olson. (L to R) front row --- Paul Poister, Dave Gustafson, Rex Martin, Karen Scanlon, Charlie Schafer and Tim Healey. SOIL EROSION: THEN AND NOW 1982 2007 Water Erosion (sheet and rill) 4.0 tons/a 2.7 tons/a Wind Erosion 1.38 billion tons nationwide 765 million tons nationwide Source: USDA NRCS 2007 National Resources Inventory
AgCareers USA 2012