The Ag Innovations Conference and Trade Show will return to Santa Maria for its third event, this time focusing on biologicals, on March 5. The deadline for discounted early registration is next week.

The purpose of the Ag Innovations Conference series is to introduce new technologies to growers through speakers from universities, research organizations and the agriculture input industry, the conference organizer said.

In 2014, the first event in Santa Maria covered a variety of topics, while the second one in San Diego in 2017 centered on microbial control.

Considering the growing interest in biologicals and the demand for sustainably produced food, organizers selected topics on biocontrol agents, biostimulants and botanical and microbial pesticides and fungicides for the third conference, said organizer Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension adviser for entomology and biologicals.

“The use of biocontrol agents, biopesticides, biostimulants and other such tools is gradually increasing in our efforts to produce with sustainable practices,” Dara said.

“To help the grape, strawberry, caneberry, vegetable and greenhouse growers in the region with updates on new biological technologies and application strategies, I am organizing a conference and trade show in Santa Maria,” he said.

The event from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Veterans' Memorial Center at 313 W. Tunnell St. will feature nonstop presentations by experts — except for a coffee break and a lunch break — throughout the morning until midafternoon.

A panel discussion and question-and-answer session will follow the presentations, and attendees will then have time to visit the trade fair before the conference ends.

Certified crop adviser and Department of Pesticide Regulation continuing education units have been requested for those who attend the conference.

The registration fee is $50 per person until Feb. 28; then on-site registration will be $100. Lunch and refreshments are included.

To register by Feb. 28 using a credit card, visit Walk-in registration on-site is to be made by check made out to “UC Regents.”

For more information about registration or participating in the trade show, contact Hiromi Peck at 805-781-5940.

The schedule of presentations includes:

• 8 a.m. — Update on new biocontrol strategies for spotted-wing drosophila and vine mealybug; Kent Daane, Kearney Ag Research and Education Center, Parlier

• 8:30 a.m. — Regulatory update on biologicals; Jolynn Mahmoudi-Haeri, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Sacramento

• 8:50 a.m. — Harnessing the power of biologicals for harvesting more, sustainably; Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension, San Luis Obispo

• 9:10 a.m. — How private research into biologicals changed over the past decade; David Holden, Holden Research, Camarillo

• 9:30 a.m. — Biostimulants, soil amendments, biofungicides, and biopesticides in tomato, strawberry, and grape crops for improved yields and/or pest and disease management; Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension, San Luis Obispo

• 9:50 a.m. — How beneficial microbes improve plant health and boost grower return on investment; Bill Schwoerer, Concentric, San Luis Obispo

• 10:10 a.m. — Enhanced microbial product performance using distributed fermentation; Paul Zorner, Locus Agricultural Solutions LLC, adjunct professor at North Carolina State University

• 10:30 a.m. — Coffee break, visit expo

• 11:15 a.m. — Fixed carbon (biochar): enabling a thriving rhizosphere; Drew Jackson, Cool Planet, Camarillo

• 11:35 a.m. — Serifel biofungicides in conventional programs for better disease control and resistance management; Katherine Walker, BASF, Santa Cruz

• 11:55 a.m. — Stargus and Ennoble: new biological solutions for managing plant pathogens; Melissa O’Neal, Marrone Bio Innovations, Arroyo Grande

• 12:15 p.m. — Potential of seaweed products in improving grapes; Ashraf El-kereamy, UC Cooperative Extension, Bakersfield

• 12:35 p.m. — Lunch break, visit expo

• 1:35 p.m. — Successful use of biologicals in outdoor crops; Antonin van der Lely Biobest-USA, San Luis Obispo

• 1:55 p.m. — Biocontrol of insect and mite pests and opportunities for biologicals: a strawberry grower’s experience; Dave Peck, Manzanita Berry Farms, Santa Maria

• 2:15 p.m. — Building a better mouse trap: History and use of neem-based products and formulation improvements for better efficacy; Deb Shatley, Terramera, Lincoln, North Carolina

• 2:35 p.m. — Biostimulant Vitazyme and biological Bio Seed: A natural synergy; Tristan Hudak, Ag Biotech Inc., Sacramento

• 2:55 p.m. — Panel Discussion and Q&A session; all speakers engage in additional discussion, respond to audience questions

• 4 to 5 p.m. — Visit expo, interact with exhibitors


News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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