Steve Laughlin - Vice President & General Manager Global Consumer Industry IBM
Steve is known for helping clients in a broad range of industries worldwide to transform their business models and consumer-facing activities. He is a leader in implementing complex business and technology solutions that drive improved performance. He leads IBM’s consumer industry, which includes retail, consumer products and wholesale distribution. His organization is responsible for serving clients by defining industry strategy, creating thought leadership, developing offerings and industry solutions, growing industry subject matter expertise, building delivery capabilities and capacity, advancing client relationships and supporting business development teams.
Steve has more than 20 years of experience in the consulting industry serving clients and managing global and domestic practices. Most recently he was vice president and general manager of global commercial sales for CSC. In the past he led key IBM practices, including the company’s global smarter commerce and growth markets application innovation businesses. He began his career in store management at Sears, Roebuck & Co. then entered consulting with Ernst & Young.
Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal Field Agronomist
As Farm Journal Field Agronomist, Ken Ferrie oversees the field trials in the Farm Journal Test Plots program, applying his extensive, cutting-edge knowledge and systems approach to farming. Ken is one of the nation’s few completely independent agronomists, operating his own agronomic consulting business, Crop-Tech Consulting (CTC), in central Illinois.
A graduate of Illinois State University and a native of northeast Iowa, Ken has previous experience as a floater operator, crop scout, co-op manager, company agronomist and maintenance manager between three elevators.
Marc Saltzman, Technology Evangelist
For the past 25 years, Marc Saltzman has been a prolific tech expert with one simple goal: to break down geek speak into street speak. Marc is a freelance journalist for more than 30 publications — including USA Today, Costco Connection, AARP, Yahoo, MSN, Metro and Sun Media — a prolific (16-time) author, radio and television personality, public speaker and host of a new Bloomberg TV show, “Tech Impact.” Marc lives in Toronto with his wife, Kellie, and three kids.
Chris Adams, Owner, Adams Family Farm
Adams Family Farm is a fifth-generation farming operation in northeastern North Dakota. Chris tends a diverse crop roster on 9,000 acres located on both sides of the North Dakota-Minnesota line in fertile Red River Valley soils: sugar beets, hard red spring wheat, hemp, soybeans and six varieties of specialty dry beans.
Bucking the middleman, Chris also operates an export business and delivers crops (via containers loaded and sealed on-farm) straight from his fields to the doorsteps of foreign buyers. Convention ranks low on Chris’ priority list and his maverick approach afforded early entry into seed hemp in 2016, soon followed with hemp for CBD purposes.
Kyle Allen, Co-Owner, Gateway Precision Ag
Kyle graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in agriculture education in 2009 and became a Crows Seed dealer. He was then a middle school ag teacher for five years. Kyle left his teaching role and has been a Channel Seed dealer for eight years. In the spring of 2019, Kyle and Shane Myers started the Gateway Precision Ag LLC, a full-service precision ag company.
Sheldon Alt, Eastern U.S. Manager, Crop Metrics
Marguerite Bolt, Hemp Extension Specialist, Purdue University
Marguerite Bolt is the hemp Extension specialist at Purdue University in the agronomy department. She received her master’s degree in entomology from Purdue and her bachelor’s degree in entomology from Michigan State University. Her research has focused on hemp-insect interactions and plant chemistry. Her position is new to Indiana, and she is serving as a catalyst to link growers to production facilities and the research community through online resources, field days and workshops.
Michael Bowman, Co-Founder, First Crop
A passionate hemp advocate, Michael Bowman is a fifth-generation native of rural Colorado and has dedicated his life to key agrarian issues both nationally and internationally. He authored Section 7606 of the 2014 farm bill, granting, for the first time since 1933, the right to cultivate hemp under federal law. Michael’s pioneering work includes: founding board member of the Rocky Mountain Hemp Association, governor-appointee of the inaugural Colorado Industrial Hemp Commission, founding board chair of the National Hemp Association, co-founder of the Colorado Farm2Cafeteria workgroup and a founding member of Agronomy 25x’25.
Tony Brannon, Dean, College of Agriculture, Murry State University
Tony Brannon serves as dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture at Murray State University (MSU) in Kentucky. Tony received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agriculture from Murray State University. He taught vocational agriculture at Peabody High School in Trenton, Tenn., for four years and then ventured off to receive his doctorate in education from Oklahoma State University. He also has been a leader in Kentucky Agriculture serving two terms as the chairperson of the Kentucky Agricultural Council both times leading and implementing a statewide task force that developed two successive strategic plans. Tony is also involved in “real world” production agriculture as he manages and operates the 550-acre Brannon Family farm just across the state line in Puryear, Tenn. The diverse fifth-generation family farm consists of corn, wheat, soybeans, agrienergy crops and, most recently, hemp.
Steve Cubbage, Founder, Record Harvest
Steve created Record Harvest in 1999 as an extension of the progressive practices he had learned on his family farm near Nevada, Mo. He is a fourth-generation farmer and is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with two Bachelor of Science degrees in agricultural economics and agricultural journalism. Record Harvest grew out of the knowledge learned from the precision practices he started on his family farm back in 1995.
It has been his belief that Record Harvest succeeds because the business and employees understand agriculture and its needs from the ground up primarily because they've lived it. For Record Harvest, it is this boots-on-the-ground approach at the front lines that makes precision agriculture work for all parties — especially the farmer.
Margy Eckelkamp, Editor, AgPro. Director of Content Development, Machinery Pete
Margy Eckelkamp is a multimedia journalist aiming to provide the agricultural industry with leading service journalism. As editor of AgPro, Margy provides editorial guidance and organization for the publication that serves ag retailers, farm managers and crop consultants. She also continues to be part of the team that aligns Machinery Pete with farm equipment dealers and delivers industry-leading machinery trends reports.
Erich Eller, Owner, ForeFront Ag Solutions
Erich Eller, owner of ForeFront Ag Solutions is a native of Huntington, Ind. He graduated from Purdue University in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness. Erich’s past experiences in the agricultural industry range from the family farm, sales and location manager in the retail fertilizer industry, district sales manager in the seed industry and sales at a John Deere dealer.
In 2015, Erich and his wife, Jennifer, launched ForeFront Ag Solutions (FFAS). The technology-focused agronomy business provides consulting to producers seeking to use technology to enhance their operations. FFAS’s primary goal is to create custom agronomic solutions to be used in conjunction with on-farm technology as a means of increasing profitability and sustainability for each customer.
Isaac Ferrie, GIS Project Manager, Crop-Tech Consulting
Isaac is a certified crop adviser and the GIS project manager at Crop-Tech Consulting Inc. (CTC) in Heyworth, Ill. He graduated from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville earning a bachelor’s degree in geography, specializing in geographic information systems (GIS). Isaac also received a Master of Professional Studies from Northeastern University in geographic information technology (GIT). At CTC, he has been working hands-on since 2003 helping to coordinate and implement many of the test plots that CTC has a hand in each year.
Isaac, his wife, Abbi, and their three children live in Heyworth. In his free time Isaac enjoys hunting and fishing.
John Fulton, Associate Professor in the Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering Department Ohio State University
John is an associate professor in the Food, Agriculture and Biological Engineering Department at Ohio State University. His research and Extension focus on precision agriculture, machinery automation and use of spatial data to improve crop production and the farm business. He also teaches while also working with farmers and industry partners to publish the Ohio State eFields report annually.
Andrew Gladden, IT Manager, Luckey Farmers
Andrew earned his bachelor’s degree in management and organizational development from Spring Arbor University and is a former marine and sub-contractor. His extensive knowledge of computers and technology are an asset to Luckey Farmers as our cooperative continues to advance forward. Andrew lives in Elmore, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
Terry Griffin, Cropping Systems Economist, Kansas State University
Terry Griffin is an associate professor and cropping systems economist at Kansas State University. He currently serves as treasurer of the International Society of Precision Agriculture that hosts the International Conference on Precision Agriculture. For his achievements in advancing digital agriculture, Terry received the 2014 Pierre C. Robert International Precision Agriculture Young Scientist Award, the 2012 Conservation Systems Precision Ag Researcher of the Year, and the 2010 PrecisionAg Award of Excellence for Educators & Researchers. His doctorate research at Purdue University evaluated spatial statistical techniques to analyze site-specific data for on-farm experiments. Griffin has held faculty positions at the University of Illinois and the University of Arkansas. In addition to North America, Terry has delivered digital agriculture topics across Europe, Africa and Australia.
Jim Heneghan, Senior VP, Agribusiness, Gro Intelligence
Jim is the Senior Vice President for Agribusiness at Gro Intelligence. Before joining Gro, Jim was a Managing Director of the agricultural commodity division of Freepoint Commodities in Stamford, Connecticut. Before Freepoint he was the Global Business Manager for agricultural commodities at BTG Pactual also in Stamford. Prior to BTG Pactual, he began his career and worked for fifteen years at the multinational agriculture company Louis Dreyfus. During his time at Louis Dreyfus he worked in a variety of managerial, research, and trading roles in the US, Singapore, and China. Jim has held memberships at major commodity exchanges and has been involved with national agricultural associations. Jim also owns and manages a farmland business in upstate New York.
Jim has a BA in Economics from Trinity College in Hartford, CT and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Columbia University in New York City.
Kylen Hunt, Central U.S. Manager, CropMetrics
Kylen Hunt is the chief sales officer for CropMetrics. His teams focus primarily on full-farm precision irrigation adoption and transformational training programs. In seeing the profitable results with intense precise irrigation management, Kylen has become passionate about building sustainable precision water programs using CropMetrics precision technology tools.
Skip Klinefelter, Owner, Linco Precision
Skip is an active cash grain producer in south central Illinois, an early adopter of precision farming techniques as well as owner of Linco Precision, LLC, an ag technology and fertilizer equipment provider serving the Midwest. Skip is particularly interested in the exponential growth of data and its effects on world wide production agricultural systems and consumers.
Mike Manning, Account Manager, Premier Crop Systems
Billy Moore, COO, Ag Resources Management
Shane Myers, Co-Owner, Gateway Precision Ag
Shane graduated from University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture systems management in 2012, worked at Monsanto in soybean breeding till 2014 then managed the precision ag department at a co-op in wastern Missouri for five years. Then started Gateway Precision Ag in spring 2019 with Kyle Allen.
Pete Nelson, Executive Director, AgLaunch
Pete has more than two decades of experience in developing regional ecosystems to support innovation in agriculture, assisting dozens of companies ranging from ag tech to new cropping systems. His work has led to more than $40 million in direct investments in research and commercialization and the establishment of support programs to grow the agricultural industry of the future.
Dion Oakes, Co-Owner, Wright-Oakes, LLC
Dion Oakes is the co-owner of Wright-Oakes LLC. He is also an active member in Adams State University value-added hemp sector partnership. This will be the sixth Wright-Oakes LLC has been in the industry. Dion’s main interest in hemp was water savings for the local farmers. The journey began with introducing hemp to his father in law. Dion is closely tied in with the whole industry from growing, to new equipment, to every kind of processing including CBD, food and fiber.
Lance Ruppert, Executive Director of Agronomy Marketing and Technology, Growmark Inc.
Lance Ruppert grew up on a registered Holstein dairy farm in south central Illinois. He holds three degrees from the University of Illinois, a bachelor’s degree in animal science, a master’s degree in ruminant nutrition and a master’s degree in managerial accounting. He was a district sales manager for 12 years working with salespeople and farmers. After his field experience, Lance has held sales and marketing responsibilities for Growmark crop protection, seed, agronomy marketing and market development. He is currently the executive director of agronomy marketing and technology. Lance and his wife, Amy, have three children: Shae, Paige and Chase.
Andy Swerlein, CEO, Luckey Farmers
Andrew Swerlein is the CEO of Luckey Farmers Inc. He graduated from Ohio State University in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics. Andrew also has his Series 3 commodity license. His previous professional experience includes: Countrymark as a grain originator, Blanchard Valley Farmers as a grain originator, branch manager and grain division manager. He also served on the Southeast Grain and Feed Association board. His wife, Tracy, and their three kids reside in Perrysburg, Ohio. Andrew enjoys golfing, hockey and spending time with his family.
Kelsey VanOverbeke, Precision Ag Specialist, Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley in Fairmount, N.D.
Born and raised on a family farm in west-central Minnesota, Kelsey obtained her bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics with a minor in crop and weed science from North Dakota State University. She acquired her Certified Crop Advisor and NRCS Technical Service Provider credentials and is going into her fourteenth year with Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley in Fairmount, N.D., serving growers in a 60 mile radius creating, administering and executing farm plan directives and practices with farmers and ranchers.
Paul Williams, President and CEO, Williams Expert Pivot
In his role as the owner and operator of a successful Reinke center pivot dealership, Williams Expert Pivot & Pump, Paul works with growers to meet their specific irrigation needs be it for design, installation, service, or repair. Paul also helps growers to find the right technology to effectively manage their irrigation systems with remote control, GPS, and variable rate irrigation.
Paul is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Agricultural Systems Management and lives in North Liberty, Indiana. Paul has previously operated his family farm, and has worked his entire career in the farm equipment sector at both the wholesale and retail levels.
Vince Winkler, Northeast Territory Manager, Reinke Manufacturing
Vince Winkler has been with Reinke Manufacturing since January 2016. My wife, son, and I reside in Middletown, Delaware where we have a small farm. Prior to employment at Reinke I raised corn, soybeans, wheat, potatoes and vegetables under various irrigated and dryland practices as a full time farmer. I am a graduate of Purdue University with a BS in Agronomy majoring in Crop and Soil Management. As Northeast Territory Manager I cover the region from Kentucky east to Virginia and north including Indiana, Michigan and the eastern provinces of Canada. I enjoy working with growers’ unique irrigation challenges in the region and I have the opportunity to serve Reinke dealers who sell a variety of irrigation products for diversified cropping systems from the Mid-West to the Mid-Atlantic.