Annual Plasticulture Conference featuring Itzhak Esquira set for Feb. 13
By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry will host its 10th Annual Plasticulture Conference on Saturday, February 13 at the Mid America Technology Center, 27438 State Highway 59, in Wayne.
This year’s theme will be “Advanced Techniques for Plasticulture.”
Plasticulture is a farming method that creates raised soil beds covered with plastic sheeting and equipped with irrigation drip lines laid directly under the plastic. Vegetable seedlings are planted in holes punched through the plastic.
The conference provides gardeners with the latest information on the growing plasticulture technique. The practice can double or triple the efficiency of the garden while allowing the gardener to harvest weeks earlier than usual.
The keynote speaker will be Itzhak Esquira, Greenhouse and Plasticulture Extension Specialist for the Israeli Plants Board. He teaches greenhouse technology at Tel Hai College and offers agricultural consulting through his company, GreenIT in Tel Aviv, Israel.
His research work includes soil solarization, design of passive solar heating systems for enhancing growth and production, introduction of plasticulture in arid, tropical and cold climate areas, as well as development of alternative energy for protected energy.
Esquira has served as a researcher, advisor and teacher in Central America, Eastern and Western Europe, China and throughout the Middle East. He has developed business plans and master plans for greenhouse technology as well as for farm management and food traceability projects for local and export markets.
Micah Anderson, ODAFF Plasticulture Program Coordinator, will give an overview of his recent trip to the International Agriculture Conference in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Other speakers include OSU Area Extension Horticulturist Dr. Jim Shrefler, Noble Foundation Horticulture Consultant Steve Upson, US Foods Manager Freddy Phillips and Dr. Merritt Taylor of the OSU Agricultural Economics Department.
The general session on Saturday will take place from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Registration costs $10 per person and includes lunch.
A pre-conference session will be held Friday, February 12 from 3 – 6 p.m., also at Mid America Technology Center. This event is free and open to the public. It will include an outside demonstration laying a plasticulture bed with a tractor and a display of hoop house design by Kingston Greenhouses.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry is under the Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture. It is responsible for providing services and expertise that promote and protect Oklahoma’s food supply and natural resources while stimulating economic growth.
To register for the Plasticulture Conference, call Ashley Bender at 405-522-4330. For more information, visit www.oda.state.ok.us