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Innovative methods found at World Ag Expo

PD Editors Karen Lee and Emily Caldwell Published on 01 March 2010

As we traveled from cold, winter climates to a warmer central California, we were disappointed by cool, rainy weather that greeted us when we arrived. But as a world of agriculture opened before us, we popped up our umbrellas, determined our shoes could withstand some mud and embarked on a few exciting days at World Ag Expo. The event was held February 9-11 in Tulare, California. With more than 1,600 exhibitors across 2.6 million square feet, it is the world’s largest agricultural exposition.

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While the state of the economy has certainly slowed down spending, dairy companies are still striving for innovative ways to help out producers. Companies unveiling new products or services were sure to convey the added value that would accompany the costs of investments.

One chemical company was planning to focus on service. They are keeping their employees and doing what they can to help producers on their dairies. They are also looking at ways to go green by reducing energy costs in cleaning and sanitizing and finding environmentally friendly hoof care products. A dairy equipment company shared its advances in automation to aid producers struggling with finding skilled labor, managing higher milk yields and the increasing demands for animal health and food safety.

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This was the first year the World Ag Expo Forage Challenge took place. Thirty-nine entries from seven Western states competed in the categories of alfalfa hay, corn silage and BMR corn silage. Up to $18,000 in prizes were awarded to the top three entries in each category.

In the same tent as the forage entries, we saw each of World Ag Expo’s Top-10 New Products on display. This year an Attendees’ Choice Award will be given to the product that received the highest rating. While we had our favorites, we can’t wait to see what everyone else selected.

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We also attended a panel discussion about supply management. One speaker mentioned in the past there were dairies to sacrifice when times were bad. Now, fewer remain, and they are stubborn, with fewer options to leave the business. Therefore, a plan needs to be put in place to help them stay in dairying. Another speaker shared that any type of growth management may not work if there isn’t a good price discovery system put in place first.

The importance of keeping records of hoof problems was stressed as well as compiling those records to notice trends and determine what’s causing the lameness. A new software program, which was also highlighted as a Top Product at the expo, can aid in collecting and sorting that information.

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Furthermore, the subject of working as a team on a dairy was discussed. In order for an operation to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, information must be exchanged among all those involved in that business, including nutritionists, veterinarians and hoof trimmers, along with the staff and owners of the dairy itself.

We attended the Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday morning with hundreds of fellow World Ag Expo exhibitors and attendees. The theme of the breakfast was, “An Eternal View of Agriculture,” and this phrase took on a special meaning as agriculture vocational teacher Darrel Colburn, who recently passed away, was honored. Gale Bamford told of how reading scripture and praying with his son Todd each morning on their dairy replacement feedlot helped him be at peace through such a tumultuous year. Bamford spoke about the challenges of being a part of the dairy industry in today’s climate and advised fellow producers to remain focused on the important things in life – faith and family.

By the time we departed the sun had returned and reminded everyone why the area is home to such a diversity of agricultural crops and the International Agri-Center. PD 0410pd pe wae 4 full

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PHOTO 1: The Immanuel High School Chamber Singers perform hymns at the World Ag Expo Prayer Breakfast.

PHOTO 2: BMR Silage winner Nelson Faria (left) and Corn Silage winner Kelly Callahan (right) are both from the small town of Royal City, Washington. They credit soil fertility for their success at the World Ag Expo Forage Challenge.

PHOTO 3: A giant guitar-playing fly takes requests from the crowd in the Farm Credit Dairy Center.

PHOTO 4: Dave Wheeler (left) of Modesto, California, and Ken Natzke (right) of Green Bay, Wisconsin, cast their votes for the Attendees’ Choice Award of the World Ag Expo’s Top-10 New Products. Photos by Emily Caldwell.

Karen Lee
  • Karen Lee

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