Your Farm. Your Future.


2019 Speakers


Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

David Kohl received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University.  For 25 years, Kohl was professor of agricultural finance and small business management and entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia. He was on special leave with the Royal Bank of Canada working on advanced initiatives for two years, and also assisted in the launch of the successful entrepreneurship program at Cornell University. Kohl is Professor Emeritus in the Agricultural and Applied Economics Department at Virginia Tech.

Kohl has traveled over 9 million miles throughout his professional career! He has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FSA, and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 2,100 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension, and other popular publications. Kohl regularly writes for Corn and Soybean Digest, and other ag lending publications.

He has received 11 major teaching awards while teaching over 10,000 students, and 25 major Extension and Public Service awards from Virginia Tech, Cornell University, and state and national organizations. Kohl is a two-time recipient of the prestigious American Agricultural Economics Association's Outstanding Teaching Award. Kohl is one of only five professors in the 100-year history of the Association to receive the award twice. He received the Governor's award for his distinguished service to Virginia agriculture, the youngest recipient to receive this award. Kohl was recognized as one of 30 leaders who are the brains behind innovative business management and economic information that agriculture uses today. He also has been named one of 7 economists and bankers who challenge the status quo.

Kohl has addressed the American Bankers Agricultural Conference for more than 35 consecutive years, and has appeared before numerous state bankers’ schools and conferences throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the world. He is also one of the top-rated instructors at the LSU and Colorado Graduate Schools of Banking, and is Chancellor of Farm Credit University, which has had over 4,000 enrollments of lenders and producers using a blended online and face-to-face educational approach.

As facilitator of the United States Farm Financial Standards Task Force and member of the Canadian Agricultural Financial Standards Task Force, Dr. Kohl was one of the leaders in establishing guidelines for the standardized reporting and analysis of agricultural producers' financial information on a national and international basis. The Kohl Agribusiness Centre has been established in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech in honor of his long-term commitment to practical teaching, research, and extension. In 2017, Kohl was inducted into the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame.

Kohl is currently President of AgriVisions, LLC, a knowledge-based consulting business providing cutting-edge programs to leading agricultural organizations worldwide. He is also a business coach and part owner of Homestead Creamery, a value-added dairy business in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Michael Horsch, Managing Director, HORSCH Maschinen GmbH, Germany

Michael Horsch came from Germany to the USA in 1979 with a plan to have his own farm one day. In 1981 he returned to Germany and built his first direct seeder instead. In 1984 he and his family founded Horsch Machine, a leading European manufacturer of agricultural tillage and seeding equipment.

Today, Horsch is one of the fastest growing short line farm machinery manufacturers in the world. Even during the downturn between 2013 and 2016, Horsch grew by over 30%. They have factories in Germany, the USA, Russia, Brazil and China.

Michael Horsch and his brothers also run several farms in East Germany and the Czech Republic. The farm AgroVation in CZ is a model future farm which many farmers around the world have already visited.

Michael will bring his entrepreneurial spirit and world view of the agricultural industry to our audience.

Session Speakers

Greg Binford, Wilbur Ellis, Indiana

Greg is manager of research and development at Wilbur Ellis. He grew up on a corn and soybean farm in central Indiana. Received his B.S. in soils from Clemson University and M.S. and Ph.D. in Nitrogen Management at Iowa State. He has been an agronomist for Pioneer, wrote nitrogen management plans for the Chesapeake Bay at the University of Delaware.

Dr. Adam Birr, Minnesota Corn

Adam is the Executive Director for the Minnesota Corn Growers Association having previously served as the research director. Prior to joining MN Corn he served as the Water Research Coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture where his primary role was to identify research gaps related to agricultural impacts on water quality. Dr. Birr grew up in Chesaning, MI and moved to MN in 1998 to pursue M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Water Resources Science from the University of Minnesota. He is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate at the University of Minnesota.

Mikaela Breunig, Michigan State University

Mikaela comes from Wisconsin where she studied plant pathology as an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. She joined Dr. Martin Chilvers’ Field Crop Pathology program two years ago, and is currently pursuing her PhD. Her research focuses on characterizing head blight pathogens of wheat in both the lab and field setting, and how different management strategies affect fungal disease.

Aaron Brooker, Michigan State University

Aaron is a PhD student in Dr. Karen Renner and Dr. Christy Sprague’s research program at MSU. Aaron received his Master’s degree in Agronomy from The Ohio State University. His PhD research involves interseeding of cover crops in corn in Michigan. The research involves timing of interseeding cover crops, cover crop species and seeding rates, herbicide selection when interseeding cover crops, influence of cover crops on soil health, and determining if the legacy of cover crops can be detected in satellite and fixed wing imagery.

Dr. Erin Burns, Michigan State University

Erin’s research and extension program focuses on current and emerging problematic weeds in Michigan cropping systems. Current research is focused on biology, ecology, population dynamics, and integrated weed management of problematic weeds with emphasis on practices to mitigate the development and spread of herbicide-resistant weeds. She has a M.S. from North Dakota State University and Ph.D. from Montana State University. She is currently at MSU in the Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Department.

Dr. Martin Chilvers, Michigan State University

Martin works on disease management issues for soybeans, wheat and corn. His areas of expertise include fungal biology, epidemiology, fungal genetics and host-pathogen interactions. He has been instrumental in Michigan State University’s Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences on current and emerging issues.

Jon Coppess, University of Illinois

Jon’s experience is in federal policymaking guides his research, extension, and teaching in agricultural policy and law. His work connects the history of federal agricultural policy development to current policy development, specifically applied to risk management and natural resource conservation. He has a BS from Miami University of Oxford, OH and a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School in D.C. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and Policy at the University of Illinois, Director, Gardner Agriculture Policy Program and Director, Bock Ag Law/Policy Program.

Lyndsey Erb, U.S. Grains Council, Washington, DC

Lyndsey serves as the director of industry relations for the U.S. Grains Council, a non-profit organization that promotes the global use of U.S. barley, corn, sorghum and related products including ethanol and distiller’s dried grains. In this capacity, Erb directs the membership team and is responsible for member servicing, retention, education and growth. She is a graduate of Southwest Minnesota State University and holds bachelor’s degrees in business finance and sociology.

Steve Gower, Bayer

Steve is a Technical Agronomist for the DEKALB and Asgrow Brands for Bayer, providing product and agronomic support to dealers, sales team members and growers in Michigan. Prior to joining the DEKALB and Asgrow Brands, he worked with Michigan State University in the plant diagnostic lab with teaching and extension responsibilities.

Jeremy Hogan, BASF, Champaign, Illinois

Jeremy is the Technical Marketing Agronomist for BASF. He works with the BASF field sales to build technical product and agronomic knowledge/skills in row crops. He conducts numerous agronomic research trials at the BASF Midwest Research and Agronomy Farm near Champaign, IL. Jeremy was born and raised on a corn and soybean farm in central Illinois and earned a BS in agronomy and MS from the University of Illinois. He is a Certified Crop Advisor and has worked in various agronomic roles within the agriculture industry for over 20 years.

Todd Hoppe, Foster Swift Collins & Smith, Lansing, MI

Todd is a business and tax attorney with Foster Swift Collins & Smith, P.C. Todd represents family farms, agricultural marketing cooperatives and supply cooperatives. Besides helping clients with formation, funding of new business entities as well as other organization and planning matters, he also supports family businesses on crafting and implementing succession plans that accomplish client goals. This often includes planned gifting, business sales, estate planning, and part-gift/part-sale transactions. For his co-op clients his work includes forming cooperatives, serving as general counsel, advising clients on Capper-Volstead Act anti-trust compliance and other laws unique to cooperatives and representing cooperatives in specific matters. This includes business transactions and both private and state-registered securities offerings.

Mike Houghtaling, P&C Ag Solutions, Reese, MI

Michael grew up on a farm near Reese, MI. He attended Michigan State University, majoring in Crop and Soil Science. He then moved back home to take a role in the family farm. In 2000, he started P & C Ag Solutions to satisfy a local demand for an independent agronomist and a technology consultant to help growers make decisions on new and emerging precision ag technologies. Mike’s passion in life is improving production agriculture. He employs precision ag tools on his own farm as well as helping others to make farming easier, more profitable and more enjoyable.  

Jeff Krohn, NTCC Inc., Elkton, MI

Jeffery R Krohn, founder of Northern Thumb Crop Consulting Inc., is an Independent Crop Consultant with 25 years of agronomy experience working in the Thumb Area of Michigan. The business has three employees and consults for more than 200,000 acres. Jeff also manages his 2,000-acre cash crop family farm near Elkton MI where they do many on farm trials. Jeff has much experience with High Management Wheat Production and specifically narrow row wheat production. Jeff recently made a trip to Germany where he was invited by the Amazone and Horsch equipment companies to observe German wheat production.

Dr. Samuel Markell, North Dakota State University

Samuel is the extension plant pathologist responsible for disease management information on broadleaf crops in North Dakota. His primary crop responsibility includes canola, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), dry edible beans, lentils, flax, peas, soybeans, and sunflowers. Dr. Markell also coordinates North Dakota's sentinel plot network as part of the soybean-PIPE and Legume-PIPE programs. In addition to extension activities, Dr. Markell also conducts applied research on diseases of several crops.

Mike Milligan, Farmer, Cass City, MI

Mike manages his family’s farming operation located in Cass City, MI. Milligan Farms specializes in wheat, corn, soybeans, and edible beans. He uses strip trials in fields to evaluate input decisions and increase efficiency. The farm has also been experimenting with cover crops and building long term soil health.

Martin Nagelkirk, Michigan State University Extension, Sanilac Co.

Martin has served as the MSU Extension Educator in Michigan’s Thumb region for many years and specializes in supporting Michigan’s wheat industry state-wide, by conducting practical field research and educational programs.

Joe Nester, Nester Ag, LLC, Bryan, Ohio

Joe Nester started Nester Ag, LLC, in Bryan, Ohio in 1993, after managing a large retail fertilizer plant for 16 years. Nester Ag provides independent agricultural consulting to customers in northwest Ohio, southern Michigan and northeastern Indiana. Joe is past Board Chairman of the Ohio Certified Crop Advisers, and Chairman of the Board with Brookside Laboratories, Inc. He is past chairman of the 4R Nutrient Certification Program for Ohio retailers and advisers, and is a member of the 4R Stewardship Council. Joe has received numerous awards throughout his career. Nester Ag also conducts in-field research, and is involved with Ohio State University on 3 water quality projects concerning farm nutrients.

Mike North, Commodity Risk Management Group, Platteville, WI

Mike began his work in the futures industry in 1995 as an intern with a local brokerage company researching the technical and fundamental dynamics of commodity market history and current price trends. After nearly two decades in the business, Mike founded Commodity Risk Management Group in 2014. His team of brokers and advisors leads production and processing clients in their efforts to construct marketing plans and margin management programs. He grew up on a family dairy farm in Wisconsin. Mike has been published in several agricultural periodicals, is a regular guest on several national programs such as AgDay, RFDTV, and the U.S. Farm Report.

Dennis Pennington, Michigan State University Extension

Dennis is the wheat systems specialist at MSU. In partnership with the Michigan Wheat Program, Dennis conducts research and extension programming aimed at helping wheat farmers increase yields, manage disease, reduce inputs, improve environmental sustainability and maximize profits.

Seth Purucker, Michigan State University

Seth grew up in Niles, MI. He is a first-year graduate student under Dr. Kurt Steinke in the Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management program. He completed his undergrad at MSU in crop and soil science. In between undergrad and grad school, he worked as an agronomist in northern Michigan for a year.

Dr. Marisol Quintanilla, Michigan State University

Marisol is an Applied Nematologist at Michigan State University. She grew up in a family farm in Chile that produces table grapes and diverse other crops. Marisol received her master’s and doctoral degrees at MSU and spent two years at Northern Marianas College and then moved to the University of Hawaii. Her work included nematode identification and analysis of and gained extensive experience in working with specialty crop growers. Most recently, she has studied nematode community structure, soil health and pest management in edible crops as part of her research and extension work.

Marty Ruikka, The ProExporter Network, Chelsea, MI

Marty is President of the The ProExporter Network and the firm’s principal. He assisted founder Bill Hudson at the firm’s launch in 1988 and followed on in 1993 working on satellite based mapping applications in conjunction with NASA’s Stennis Space Center. Marty leads the PRX project team analyzing strategic grain origination projects including mergers, acquisitions, elevator studies and ethanol studies. He co-developed the Commodity Market Zone Analysis (CMZA) software, a grain origination-modeling tool based on a geographical information system (GIS).

Jeff Sandborn, Farmer, Portland, MI

Jeff currently serves as a member of the National Corn Growers Association Board where he was recently elected to a second term. As owner and operator of Sandborn Farms, Jeff is a fourth-generation farmer who oversees the production of corn and soybeans on 1,900 acres in Portland, Michigan. Jeff has built a successful family farm that strongly incorporates technology and environmentally conscious facilities and practices. His knowledge and work ethic have earned him the respect and recognition of his peers, having been named a 2010 Master Farmer, whose criteria include farm management, innovation, conversation and leadership. Early in his career, Jeff was honored with the Jaycees Outstanding Young Farmer Award. Jeff also served in various leadership roles for the Michigan Corn Growers Association board of directors, including president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. Sandborn is also a participant in the Conservation Stewardship Program, which provides financial and technical assistance for conservation-minded producers to protect and enhance soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land.

Dr. Steve Safferman, Michigan State University

Steve has research, teaching, and extension appointments. His research entails evaluating and/or developing wastewater treatment systems, waste to resource technologies, decision support models, and practices to retain nutrients in soil to maximize beneficial plant uptake. He teaches the Department’s first technical course on basic engineering analysis of biological systems and an advanced water resource recovery class, jointly with the Department of Environmental Engineering. He also teaches interdisciplinary sustainability classes in the Honors College.

Carla Schultz, Farmer, Mayville, MI

Carla Schultz and her family raise soybeans, corn, pigs, beef cattle, alfalfa, black and navy beans, and wheat on their Michigan farm. Carla is also a volunteer with the CommonGround program. CommonGround is a group of farmers having conversations about the food they grow and how they produce it. They share personal experiences, as well as science and research, to help consumers sort through the myths and misinformation surrounding food and farming. CommonGround was developed by farmers through two of our national checkoffs, the United Soybean Board (USB) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

Mark Seamon, Michigan Soybean, Frankenmuth, MI

Mark is the research coordinator at the Michigan Soybean promotion Committee (MSPC). He previously served for 16 years as an MSU Extension educator in Saginaw County. He brings his knowledge of crop production, marketing and business development to provide leadership, oversee and coordinate MSPC’s production and market development research efforts.

Jason Stegink, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Wayland, MI

Jason works for Nutrien Ag Solutions out of the Moline, MI location on the west side of the state. Jason has been in the agriculture industry for twenty years operating machinery early on, then focusing on Precision Ag Services for the last dozen years as the precision service lead for the Bangor, Hamilton, Moline and West Olive locations. Nutrien Ag Solutions services a broad spectrum of crops and operations in the West Michigan region including row crops, specialty crops, vegetables and a strong livestock operation presence.

Dr. Christy Sprague, Michigan State University

Christy is a Weed Science Extension Specialist and Associate Professor in the Dept. of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. Prior to coming to MSU in 2003, she was at the University of Illinois. Christy’s research and extension program focuses on integrated weed management strategies in many of Michigan’s agronomic crops.

Dr. Kurt Steinke, Michigan State University

Kurt came from Texas A&M University and is an assistant professor of soil fertility and nutrient management in the Department of Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences at Michigan State University. He received a B.S. in soil science at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His current responsibilities include soil fertility and nutrient management strategies across agricultural production systems and understanding nutrient interactions and their effects on soil and plant communities to improve both water and nutrient management.

Eric Sowatsky, Yeo & Yeo, Saginaw, MI

Eric is a Principal at Yeo & Yeo CPAs. He leads the firm’s Agribusiness Services Group and is a member of the Tax Services Group. He assists farm and agribusiness operations with business and tax planning issues, and succession planning. He is a member of the Michigan Agri-Business Association’s Grain Committee and the Farm Financial Standards Council. Eric is a regular guest on WSGW Newsradio’s Farm Service 790 program.

Paul Sweeney, Ecosystem Services Exchange

Paul brings thirty-nine years of experience with numerous federal conservation programs at the local, state and national levels to Ecosystem Services Exchange (ESE). Paul’s key focus at ESE will be to serve as director of conservation planning. His career with the NRCS as a senior project leader included serving as the team lead for the NRCS national ag water management team and assisting in numerous conservation programs aimed at water quality including drainage water management and sub-irrigation. Paul has worked in seven states across the US on water quality and quantity resource issues.

Jon Turkus, Michigan State University

Jon is a second-year graduate student in the Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology program at Michigan State University. He works in Dr. Eric Olson’s Wheat Breeding and Genetics laboratory where he is pursing projects relating to bread wheat yield and disease resistance. Jon is a native to Michigan, growing up in Okemos, a city near East Lansing.

Dr. Jaime Willbur, Michigan State University

Jaime has a B.S. in chemical biology from Lawrence Technological University and Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin. She is currently the Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Dept. at MSU where her work centers on integrated pest management, predictive modeling and disease epidemiology.

Mike Wilson, VERITAS, Chatham, Ontario

Mike was born and raised on a cash crop close to Chatham, Ontario. Mike began work in the ag retail sector after college, where he consulted with farm customers in various roles for 15 years throughout Southwestern Ontario, developing a real passion for precision agriculture. In 2016, Mike joined VERITAS in the role of affiliate program lead, to create, coach, and support an agronomic and precision solutions offering for a growing network of Veritas Affiliate Partners in Canada and the United States. Mike’s passion for agriculture, his invaluable hands-on experience, and his strong practical knowledge of agronomy and precision farming allow him to effectively communicate with, and create solutions for customers. He continues to work on the family farm with his father and uncle.

Dr. Felicia Wu, Michigan State University

Felicia is the John Hannah Distinguished Professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics. Previously, she was an Associate Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at University of Pittsburgh. In 2014 Felicia was named Director of the new MSU Center for Health Impacts of Agriculture - CHIA which is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USAID and the USDA.

Felicia’s research interests lie at the intersection of global health, agriculture, and trade. Using the tools of mathematical modeling, health economics, and quantitative risk assessment, she examines how agricultural systems affect health in different parts of the world. For her research on the impact of aflatoxin regulations on global liver cancer, Felicia was awarded a National Institutes of Health EUREKA Award.

She is a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group, as well as the expert roster of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the United Nations. She received the 2007 Chauncey Starr Award of the Society for Risk Analysis, given annually to a risk scientist age 40 or under; and serves as the health risk area editor for the journal Risk Analysis.

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2019 Great Lakes Crop Summit - January 30 - 31, 2019

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