Last week I was among some of the leading agricultural scientists in the world and I must say I was in awe. Maybe a little bit starstruck even. The annual meeting of the tri societies (a combination of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America) was being held and more than 3,800 scientists gathered to talk about the latest breakthroughs and areas of promise for the future. Somehow a handful of communications people, including me, got in the mix.
I was there to give a presentation on social media and its current use in agriculture. And while I thought I had been to a number of technical conferences before, including my beloved Beltwide, the shared science focus at the tri-societies meeting was unique.
The theme of the meeting was “Green Revolution 2.0: Food + Energy and Environmental Security.” There were presentations on topics that were quite approachable to a communications-oriented mind like mine talking about sustainable agriculture and the future of some crop technologies. But there were thousands of topics being covered and they included things I had never pondered like the nitrification impacts of perennial crops like almonds on soils.
The enthusiasm for what other scientists were doing was palpable. Everywhere you looked there were small clusters or larger groups of agricultural scientists from the public and private sectors from all over the world. They were talking about virtually every area of agronomy, crops and soils imaginable! And 1,000 of those great minds were students!
Having the opportunity to visit with the leaders of each of the societies was a bonus for me. All were so open with their time. I was even able to spend just a couple of minutes with my video camera talking to Newell Kitchen who headed the program components for the Agronomy Society and who is that organization’s incoming president for 2011. He’s on staff with the USDA Agricultural Research Service as a soil scientist in Columbia, Missouri.
The excitement Newell shows for the event and the organization is much like the excitement I felt whenever I talked to other scientists about the ability of our farms to meet the growing demands for healthy, nutritious food. How could you not get excited about that?