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Field Crops Track


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

8:00 AM – 8:30 AM

Farmer Appreciation Breakfast


Please submit your breakfast reservation here.

Calling all farmers to join AgFirst for a Farmer Appreciation Breakfast. Breakfast complimentary of AgFirst Farm Credit Bank. The Appreciation Breakfast will flow immediately into the 8:30 AM General Session.

General Session Begins at 8:30 AM

8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Celebrating Agriculture

"Celebrating Agriculture" is a high-energy keynote focused on celebrating the people, promise, and passion in agriculture. Michele Payn will discuss the importance of people working together in farming, knowing your own legacy to get you through tough times and speaking the same language through hot buttons (passion).

11:00 AM - 12:20 PM

Championing Agriculture

“Championing Agriculture” is an interactive program designed to help you develop an action plan to take home to advocate and have more productive conversations with the non-farm audience on topics such as animal welfare, sustainability, chemicals, GMOs, etc.  

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Michele Payn, Cause Matters Corporation

Michele Payn, CSP, connects the people and science of food and farming as principal of Cause Matters Corp. She is known for being a community catalyst, a passionate advocate for the global agrifood system - and antagonizing people into action. Michele has worked with farmers in more than 25 countries, raised over $5 million in sponsorships for the National FFA Foundation and founded the weekly online Twitter conversations, AgChat and Food Chat. Michele's degrees are in Agricultural Communications and Animal Science from Michigan State University. She is an international award-winning author and has earned the Certified Speaking Professional designation, awarded to less than 10% of professional speakers globally. She resides with her ‘city slicker’ husband and daughter on a small farm in central Indiana, where they enjoy Registered Holsteins, fitness, and making memories around the table. Michele connects conversations between the food and farm communities at http://causematters.com and socially through @mpaynspeaker. She is the author of two books, No More Food Fights! and Food Truths from Farm to Table, a #1 best seller.

2:00 PM – 3:15 PM

SC Hemp, First Year & Future

Join Justin Ballew, Nathan Smith and David Dewitt to learn more about the first year of hemp production in SC. Jason Eargle of Brackish Solutions, LLC will also be joining these gentlemen in sharing information gleaned during the first year of hemp production and harvesting.

Justin will speak about the disease and insect issues observed in 2018 and Nathan will share information about the budget work he has compiled based on first year grower experiences. David will provide an update on current programs and the 2019 plans.


Justin Ballew, Clemson Extension, Extension Agent

Justin joined Clemson Extension in January of 2015 as an agent in Marion County.  In March of 2018, he moved to Lexington County to focus on commercial fruit and vegetable production.  The Columbia native is a 2011 graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education.  Ballew previously worked with Clemson Extension in Lexington County from 2011-2012 as a research technician before leaving to earn his master’s degree in plant protection and pest management from the University of Georgia.  After receiving his master’s degree in 2013, Ballew worked with the UGA Extension for a year before returning to home to South Carolina to join Clemson Extension.


David DeWitt, Clemson Extension, Area Row Crop Agent

David joined Clemson Extension in February of 2012 as an area agronomy agent serving Lee, Sumter, and Kershaw counties. The Darlington native is a 1989 graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural mechanization and business.  DeWitt previously was owner and operator of DeWitt Farms Inc., a row crop operation in Darlington County, primarily focused on tobacco, cotton and soybeans.


Dr. Nathan Smith, Clemson University, Extension Professor & Economist

Dr. Nathan Smith is an Extension Professor and Economist with Clemson University.  He is located at the Sandhills Research and Education Center in Columbia, South Carolina. Dr. Smith’s major responsibilities are in crop production economics, marketing and policy.  He also works with South Carolina growers and stakeholders on value-added prospects and ventures.  Dr. Smith is the Agribusiness Program Team Leader for Clemson Cooperative Extension, coordinating efforts in agribusiness and leading a team of Extension agents and specialists.

Dr. Smith was an Associate Professor and Extension Economist with the University of Georgia prior to joining Clemson University.  He was located on the Tifton Campus where his major responsibilities were production economics, marketing and policy for peanuts, feed grains, and soybeans.  Dr. Smith was Extension Marketing Specialist for row crops at the University of Arkansas for three years prior to joining the University of Georgia.  He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Clemson University, Master of Science degree from Auburn University and PhD from the University of Kentucky, all in agricultural economics.  Dr. Smith was raised in Easley, South Carolina and met his wife, Kim, while attending Clemson University. They have two sons Douglas and Daniel.

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Jason Eargle, Brackish Solutions, LLC

Jason Eargle serves on The State Extension Advancement council and lobbied the state legislature to allow hemp farming. Jason is an entrepreneur and advocate for hemp production in SC. Brackish Solutions is one of South Carolina's first industrial hemp companies as one of a handful of selected participants in the state's inaugural Hemp Pilot program in 2016.

In 2016, Jason along with 4 old friends and business associates formed Brackish Solutions to advocate for a new idea and legislation to promote industrial hemp production in South Carolina.  They believed SC grown hemp could be the best alternative and more lucrative commodity crop than any other in the state of SC. It was a wild dream.

One year later, his team along with a coalition of like minded farmers, citizens and legislators helped create the SC Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. In 2018 Brackish Solutions provided industrial hemp genetics, farm management and industry sales support for this rapidly growing industry in our state.  Brackish supported the full seed to sale program for 2 of the 20 farms in year one of the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. Then in 2019 Jason and his partners have launched a full scale industrial hemp genetics company called Cannetics that can provide seed, clones and transplants on the front end of the planting cycle, while still providing the full farm management, sales support and regulatory advocacy they have backed since day one.

3:15 PM - 4:10 PM

Your Forest Land may be a Hidden Jewel on Your Farm!

Join three of our states outstanding forest leaders to learn more about how your forest land may be a hidden jewel on your farm.  You don’t want to miss this informative session.

Livestock and Row Crops aren’t the only source of income on your farm:
Maximizing the value of your woods

Most farmers own a combination of agricultural lands and woods.  Most of their efforts focus on their agricultural lands, which are often intensively managed to produce higher yields and maximize revenue.  However, the woodlands may not be and in many cases might just be an afterthought.  Come learn about opportunities to manage the wooded acres you own to generate more income for the farm and improve your bottom line. 


Scott Phillips, SC Forestry Commission

Scott Phillips is the State Forester of South Carolina. As the agency head for the South Carolina Forestry Commission, he provides oversight of all functions of the agency and represents the Forestry Commission and South Carolina’s forestry interests at the state, regional, and national level.  Scott received a B.S. of Forest Resources from the University of Georgia where he dual majored in Forestry and Wildlife Management and a Masters of Forest Resources from Clemson University where he specialized in Forest Business. Scott is a Registered Forester in South Carolina and has over 20 years’ experience managing forestland.

Managing Agriculture and Wildlife:  A Win-Win Proposition

Landowners who farm for row crops, livestock, and/or timber as income often think that management for wildlife may be incompatible with their financial goals.  Establishment of wildlife habitat sometimes has associated labor and material costs, and land dedicated to wildlife and out of crop production may equate to lost revenue.  However, there are ranges of management practices beneficial for wildlife that can be integrated with agricultural activities with little additional effort and often with little financial sacrifice.  Additionally, available cost-share programs can help offset the cost of implementing certain of these practices.  Improved wildlife habitat and a corresponding increase in game species provide opportunities for lease hunting as additional income.  Non-game species likewise present opportunities for ecotourism enterprises.


T.J. Savereno, Senior Associate Extension Agent with Clemson University

T.J. Savereno, is a Senior Associate Extension Agent with Clemson University specializing in wildlife, forestry, and other natural resources.  He has worked for Clemson University since 2003, previously as an Extension Associate at Clemson’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center, and now at the Lee County Extension office in Bishopville, SC.   T.J. assists landowners with questions regarding natural resource management in general, but his specialties include restoration and management of the longleaf pine ecosystem, groundcover management in forest ecosystems, native vegetation management, the importance of early successional habitat for wildlife, creating wildlife habitat in urban and suburban landscapes, invasive plant species control, promotion of the use of prescribed fire, and integrating wildlife management with forestry and agricultural systems. T.J. received his B.S. in Biology from Fairmont State University in his home state of West Virginia and his M.S. in Wildlife Biology from Clemson University.  He is past president of the SC Vegetation Management Association, and past chairman and current steering committee member of the SC Prescribed Fire Council.  T.J. also serves on the SC State Advisory Committee of County Forestry Boards, the SC NRCS State Technical Committee, the SC Quail Council Technical Committee, and on the advisory committees of the Sewee Longleaf Conservation Cooperative.  He previously served on the advisory committee of the SC Chapter of The Wildlife Society. He is married and has a 21-year-old daughter attending Clemson University and a 15-year-old son at West Florence High School. T.J. and his wife, Lynette, are active in animal rescue work. In his spare time, of which there is sadly too little, he enjoys nature photography and playing his guitars.

The Value of Prescribed Burning and How to Do it Properly

Prescribed burning is without question the most cost effective and beneficial tool a forest manager has available.  The issue is that over the years people have been taught that fire is bad.  This has resulted in the majority of our forests being left unburned for many years, which has led to a buildup of fuels leading to a severe risk of devastating wildfire.  Today, forest managers work diligently to educate the public on the proper use of prescribed fire to manage our forests and reduce the risk of wildfire along with promoting healthier wildlife habitat and forest vegetation.  To do so, it is also vital to understand the risks and liability associated with conducting prescribed burns.


Ryan Bean, Natural Resources Agent, Clemson Coop Ext.

Ryan is originally from Knoxville, TN, but has spent most of his life in SC. A graduate of Clemson University with BS in Forest Resource Management in 2004 with a minor in Forest Products, Ryan began working for the SC Forestry Commission in 2006 as a project forester overseeing cost-share in 4-5 counties in the midlands. Ryan was also responsible for prescribed burning and responding to wildfires as necessary.

Ryan began working for Clemson Extension in 2013 by conducting educational programming for landowners and professionals statewide. Ryan is responsible for 4 counties at this time including Fairfield, Kershaw, Sumter, and Chesterfield with Camden being his home office. Aside from conducting programs, Ryan also conducts personal visits with landowners to address their needs whether it’s forest management, pond management, or wildlife management.

4:15 PM – 5:15 PM

ACRE – Interested in Getting Your Agribusiness to the Next Level?

This program will focus on Business Planning, Grants & Funding Options, Agribusiness Entrepreneurs-Great Opportunity to receive $25,000 through ACRE, and how to receive free business mentoring.

ACRE, the Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship,is a SC Department of Ag initiative, seeks to provide additional economic prosperity for South Carolina agribusiness both from within the state and from across the globe. ACRE houses a unique research platform devoted to addressing specific challenges for industries that can provide more market opportunities to South Carolina agribusinesses and farmers. The research component combined with an entrepreneurship initiative is designed to help drive new ideas, technologies and solutions into the market to increase jobs and economic development in the South Carolina agricultural sector.

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Kyle Player, Assistant Director, ACRE (Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship), SC Dept of Agriculture

Kyle is the Assistant Director for ACRE and helps manage the program with an emphasis on the Entrepreneurship Center and Grants. She serves as the liaison between all persons working with ACRE within the Department and outside the Department.  She spent 7 years in Washington, DC with Airlines for America, a firm that works collaboratively with Congress and the Administration to promote safe, secure and healthy U.S. airline industry.  She Received a B.S. Degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management (PRTM) and a Masters of PRTM with a concentration in Youth Development, both from Clemson.

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John Carman, Chair of the Aiken SCORE Chapter

John served as a communication and public affairs specialist for the US Navy and several Department of Defense organizations involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He then served as a communication and public affairs specialist for the US Navy and several Department of Defense organizations involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Upon retirement, John moved to Aiken, SC where he has worked with SCORE, an all-volunteer small business and entrepreneurship-mentoring program connected to the Small Business Administration. SCORE is also connected to four local Chambers of Commerce in Aiken, N. Augusta, Augusta and Evans - Columbia County, as well as local universities and businesses. John currently serves as Chair of the Aiken SCORE Chapter. USDA has recently asked SCORE to focus more on agribusiness in SC and John has been asked to lead that effort. He also serves as a Master Gardener with the Aiken Master Gardeners Association.

What is SCORE?

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. SCORE has been doing this for over fifty years.

SCORE is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our nationwide network of 10,000 volunteers, we are able to deliver our services at no charge or at very low cost.  South Carolina has Six SCORE Chapters and more than 260 volunteers.

SCORE provides:

  • Volunteer Mentors who share their expertise across all business areas, including for-profit and not-profit organizations.

  • Free, confidential business Mentoring in person, via email or by video.

  • Free business tools, including templates and tips at score.org.

  • Inexpensive or free business Workshops (locally) and Webinars (online 24/7)

Thursday, January 24, 2019

11:00 AM-12:20 PM

Introducing New High Yield Management Practices for Corn and Soybean into Traditional Systems

This session will cover the basic principles and mathematics behind new high-yield management systems for corn and soybean.  The concept of maximizing yield by building each yield component will be covered along with the keys to the astounding corn and soybean yields you read about in the farm press.  Ideas for how you can use these keys on your farm will be presented.

12:30  PM - 1:30 PM

Lunch ‘n Learn: What do I Want for the Future of My Farm and My Family? 

In this session, you will learn how to get started with a farm succession plan & how Nationwide can assist you with this process at no cost.  It's your land, you choose who inherits it.  Grab your lunch (Cost $10.00) and then join us for an engaging and informative Lunch ‘n Learn.

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Mike Beachy, Land is Your Legacy, Nationwide

Mike Beachy is a Regional Program Director for Nationwide’s Land As Your Legacy program. He has over 10 years of experience in the financial services industry, and has been with Nationwide for nearly five years. He has received both a Master of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree from the University of Dayton. He also holds the professional designation of Chartered Life Underwriter from the American College.

Mike has an inherent passion and appreciation for the agricultural community. You can say it’s in his blood.

Raised in an Amish/Mennonite family, farming has been a cornerstone of his family’s lifestyle for at least six generations. Mike spent his childhood in the combine with his father, sheering sheep with his grandfather and learning to shoot from his grandmother.

It’s those experiences that Mike brings to Nationwide and the Land As Your Legacy program. Because of his background, Mike has a unique perspective in financial services and he sees the value transition planning can offer to the farm and ranch community.

2:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Adopting New High Yield Management Practices for Corn and Soybean – How Can I Make Those Yields on My Farm?

This will be an interactive session where growers will be encouraged to participate in discussions covering the adoption of new high-yield practices for corn and soybean.  Both the benefits and pitfalls of new concepts such as using early maturing indeterminate soybean varieties, placing fertilizer directly beside the corn or soybean plant, double inoculation of soybeans, the use of micronutrients, improved seed placement, the key triad of variety – seeding rate – and planting date, and other important high-yield concepts will be explored in depth.  Farmer experience and supporting research will be combined in a dual presentation that will focus attention on management practices that are keys to better yields.


Dr. Ron Heiniger, NC State

Dr. Ronnie Heiniger is a professor in the Department of Crop and Soils Sciences at North Carolina State University. He received his PhD in crop ecology from Kansas State University in 1994. Dr. Heiniger has worked for the past 24 years as a research and extension specialist at the Vernon G. James Research and Extension Center in Plymouth, NC. His responsibilities include research into precision agriculture and corn-wheat-soybean cropping systems. Dr. Heiniger is known for his applied research. He has published over 50 research publications, 80 extension articles, and presented numerous abstracts and papers covering his work in precision agriculture, the use of aerial photography to determine nitrogen requirements for corn and wheat, phyllochron intervals in wheat and managing high-yield corn from emergence to harvest.  Dr. Heiniger has received the Gerold O Mott Award for outstanding research from the American Society of Agronomy, is a three-time recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from both the North Carolina Corn Grower’s Association and the North Carolina Small Grain Grower’s Association and is a member of the Academy of Outstanding Extension Specialists at North Carolina State University.

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Kevin Matthews, Matthews Family Farms

Kevin and wife Cindy owns and operate Matthews Family Farms of North Carolina, Inc., Precision Nutrient Management, Inc., and Deep Creek Grain, Inc. in East Bend and Yadkinville N.C. They have three children Megan, Timothy, and Danielle a junior studying Agribusiness Management along with crop and soil science at North Carolina State University. Prior to farming full-time Kevin earned an Associate Degree in Electronic Engineering that has been a huge asset in their farming operation.

Kevin while being very active in his community and commodity groups he spends tremendous time implementing and testing new technologies and test plots with a focus in no-till conservation and irrigation management. These practices have blessed Matthews Family Farms of NC, Inc. with numerous high yield awards in Corn and Soybeans from no-till dry land to Irrigated crops. Irrigation began with Center Pivots early on to how many acres of subsurface drip “SDI” irrigation. The SDI success along with non-irrigated no-till yields has created many opportunities to teach others.  With many speaking engagements all over the country from small and large field day groups to multiple presentations at the Commodity Classic and the AgPhd field day with his very own test plots in Baltic S.D. creating a passion to share his success with others!

Kevin gives credit to the Lord first and his great team of employees and family for the yielding success and management of their farm. The operation consist of 6,500+ acres and nearly 800 acres of custom work producing corn, wheat, full and double crop soybeans over a 50-mile distance across four counties in the piedmont region, primarily rich flat river bottom and red clay rolling upland soils.