This year, we are excited to welcome back to the Sunbelt Ag Expo the Southeastern Hay Contest. A tradition since 2004, The Southeastern Hay Contest has been keeping hay growers striving for the best for over a decade. Those interested in hay production make up one of the largest attendee groups at the Expo. The recognition of those that are the best in the industry is a highlight event at the show each year.
The Southeastern Hay Contest spotlights high-quality hay and balayage production across the southeast, including submissions from multiple states across the region. Massey Furgeson and multiple other sponsors encourage and enable farmers to submit their hay into seven different categories ranging from warm season perennial grass hay to legume baleage.
The top three category winners are awarded cash prizes sponsored by R.W. Griffin Industries, America’s Alfalfa, Agri-King, Corteva Agriscience, Athens Seed Company, Pennington, and Southeast Agriseeds. The grand prize winner is sponsored by Massey Ferguson and will have the choice of the use of a new Massey Ferguson RK Series rotary rake or a new Massey Ferguson DM Series Professional disc mower for the 2022 hay production season AND receive $1,000 cash.
Awards are presented at the opening ceremony of the Sunbelt Ag Expo, October 19, 2021. For more information on the contest visit www.sunbeltexpo.com/highlighted-events/southeast-hay-contest. Entries must be postmarked no later than September 1, 2021.
Have you ever seen farm research that looks like an art project? On any given day, various types of research are being conducted on the Darrell Williams Research Farm at the Sunbelt Ag Expo. On this particular day, the research looked more like art than farm research.
One of the many UGA researchers that utilizes the Expo’s Research Farm is Simerjeet Virk, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the area of Precision Agriculture and Machinery Systems at the University of Georgia. Dr. Virk has been involved in precision agriculture extension work at the University of Georgia since 2016. His extension efforts are focused on advancing the adoption and effective utilization of precision agriculture technologies and data management systems among the growers to improve crop production while maintaining farm profitability. Along with a few other studies, one study Dr. Virk is administering involves the use of different spray nozzles. This particular study considers the droplet size that each particular nozzle on the sprayer puts out and the consistency of the output so that farmers are better informed about nozzle options when applying insecticides and herbicides to different crops. It’s easy to leave the same nozzles on a sprayer when you are in a hurry, but the benefits of taking a few extra minutes to change out sprayer nozzles between crops and products is evident in the trials Dr. Virk and his team are conducting.
To learn more about this study and others on the Research Farm, plan to attend the Sunbelt Ag Expo’s Annual Field Day, July 22nd, 2021. Information will be updated on the Sunbelt Ag Expo’s website as it is available. www.sunbeltexpo.com/field-day.
After having celebrated the 30th Annual Swisher Sweets / Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award in 2019, the program is releasing an updated name and logo for the 2021 Sunbelt Ag Expo. In August 2020, Swisher International, Inc. changed its corporate identity to SWISHER, signifying the expansion of the company’s vision and offerings. This change initiated an update to the name of the award program to Swisher / Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year.
The Farmer of the Year program celebrates exceptional members of the agricultural community from ten states. Nominees for state awards are nominated by local county Extension agents in Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Farm Bureau Federation area organization directors, field representatives or county presidents nominate the winners in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky and North Carolina. The rules, however, allow anyone to nominate a potential Farmer of the Year as long as they go through the local County Extension agent or Farm Bureau representative. Once each state winner is selected by its respective state committee, these ten winners are entered into the Southeastern Farmer of the Year Competition.
To ensure fairness in the selection of the overall winner, judges review a nomination packet and participate in a three hour farm visit for each state winner. At the conclusion of this year’s Expo, a total of 31 outstanding farmers will have been recognized as overall winners of the Swisher / Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award, and 276 farmers from ten states will have been recognized as state winners.
To learn more about this year’s event and the 2020-2021 state winners, visit sunbeltexpo.com/foty. We hope to see you in October as we celebrate these farmers, their families, and the 2021 Swisher / Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year.
The Sunbelt Ag Expo is grateful for the opportunity to have partnered with many groups within our community over the last several years. Since 2008, the Expo has featured backyard gardening seminars and demonstrations. In 2015, a permanent exhibit space was established that has proven to be a popular spot for visitors. In 2019, Flint River Fresh and Fredando Jackson aka “Farmer Fredo” began working in the space.
Along with Farmer Fredo, students from the CCHS FFA have been instrumental in harvesting the crops grown in the garden. In 2019 and 2020, we were able to make significant contributions of greens from the garden to the Colquitt County Food Bank. Because of the success of this partnership, the growing and harvesting of garden crops is now a year-round venture. In 2020, satsuma trees donated by Cool Springs Nursery were planted. Earlier this spring, irish potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, squash, blueberry bushes and plum trees, all donated by Flint River Fresh, were planted with help from the Moultrie Federated Guild’s Health and Wellness Committee. These volunteers assist in the planting, harvesting and basic upkeep of the garden. Within a few days, the irish potatoes will be dug and donated to the Colquitt County Food Bank. Peach and apple trees will soon be added to the garden.
“My goal is to grow food, make it accessible to the community, and teach others to do the same,” says Farmer Fredo. The Sunbelt Ag Expo is grateful for relationships that allow us to foster connections that make our community a better place to live.
Join us at this year’s Expo to see the fall garden crops, to learn how to nurture your own backyard garden, and to visit with Farmer Fredo.
The largest research area on the Darrell Williams Research Farm located at the Sunbelt Ag Expo is the UGA Forage Bermudagrass Variety “Garden.” Dr. Dennis Hancock, former UGA Forage Specialist, worked with the Sunbelt Farm Crew to establish the plot over five years ago.
For the past three years, an extensive stem maggot study has been carried out. In looking at the different varieties, research showed a noticeable difference throughout the six varieties. Through the use of best practice applications including fertilizer, herbicides and insecticides, the production of high quality hay in the plot has doubled over the last five years. Current UGA Forage Specialist, Dr. Lisa Baxter, has worked for many years to manage the continued, increased yield of the variety garden. Kubota Manufacturing Company provides all necessary tools to harvest the hay.
At the Expo’s Annual Field Day in July, plan to visit with Dr. Baxter to see distinguishable differences amongst the varieties. Discuss a plan for your forages to optimize production throughout the growing season. During the Sunbelt Ag Expo held in October, the hay demonstration area is the largest attraction for farmers attending the show. Over ten different companies are in the field running cutters, tedders, rakes, and balers (round and square).
If you are ever in the need for exceptional hay, reach out to the Sunbelt Ag Expo to purchase direct from our Research Farm. We look forward to visiting with you about the hay research during Field Day on July 22 and about hay equipment during this year’s Expo, October 19-21.
Water conservation has been at the forefront of research and policy in the Southeast for nearly as long as water has been flowing. More recently, Reinke Manufacturing and CropX partnered to install CropX field sensors on Reinke irrigation equipment located on the Darrell Williams Research Farm located at the Sunbelt Ag Expo.
In a training held Thursday, April 29, 2021 at the Expo, Mike Mills, Reinke Southeast Territory Manager, and Jeff Burton, CropX Southeast Territory Manager, were on site to install field sensors at different locations around the Research Farm. Together, CropX and Reinke have more than 80 years of combined experience in research, design and manufacturing effective equipment and sustainable technology for farmers. Specializing in advanced technology that provides recommendations on a variety of factors, CropX uses maps, aerial imagery, weather, modeling, user input and their patented soil sensing technology to accurately predict outcomes. Chip Blalock, Sunbelt Ag Expo Director, said in a statement Thursday, “ This moisture monitoring system allows us to showcase how we can become even better environmental stewards by optimizing our inputs, especially by putting out the right amount of water at the right time which will enhance our yields in the end.”
The Sunbelt Expo is grateful for a long-standing partnership with Reinke Manufacturing. In addition, the Expo is fortunate to have a new relationship with CropX allowing for the sponsorship and installation of new technology available in the use of multiple field sensors. The sensors will allow growers the opportunity to see how they can be empowered with the world’s finest irrigation scheduling, ultimately leading to greater water conservation practices.
This month, we said, “See you later,” to long-time board member, Dr. John Jensen, after 14 years of service to the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition.
Dr. Jensen obtained a B.S. degree from the University of Minnesota and an M.S. and Ph.D. degrees both from Auburn University. If you know anything about the history of fisheries and aquaculture, then you know John Jensen. He spent a 40-year career dedicated to improving lives through the development of aquaculture in communities around the world. His contribution to Alabama Extension and Auburn University is so extensive, he simply smiles and laughs when you ask him what all he’s done in his career.
After earning a bachelor’s degree, Jensen served as a Peace Corp volunteer in Brazil, where he helped fishermen develop a fish marketing cooperative that would lift many out of poverty. In 1972, he joined the Auburn University staff as a research associate working to build a Brazilian aquaculture industry. Jensen returned to Auburn in 1975 and, in 1979, was appointed fisheries extension specialist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. He was named head of Auburn’s Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures in 1995 and then interim dean of the College of Agriculture and interim director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station in 2001. He served in this role until 2004. Following his time as interim dean and director, he served as Auburn’s special assistant to the president for agriculture from 2004 to 2005. Upon his retirement in 2007, he was named professor emeritus and visiting scholar. He returned to Auburn from 2013 to 2015 to serve as interim director of his former department, which had been renamed the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences. He officially retired for the second time in 2015. Over the years, Dr. Jensen received many awards and much recognition – one of the most prestigious having been his induction into the Auburn University Agriculture Hall of Honor in 2019.
Dr. Jensen, completed his hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2012. He has continued to travel to Brazil and has helped establish an aquaponics system in Honduras to produce fish and vegetables for more than 500 orphans. He is fluent in Portuguese and can read and speak Spanish. Jensen and his wife, Marianne, have four children and six grandchildren with whom he enjoys fishing.
The Sunbelt Ag Expo is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Dr. John Jensen for so many years. Because of his selfless devotion to the organization, Expo visitors are able to enjoy extensive, educational opportunities associated with fisheries and aquaculture. Dr. Jensen was honored at the April 2021 board meeting for his tenure as part of the governing body of the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition. We wish him many casts and lots of catches in his future.
While the Expo’s mission is to provide ag companies a venue that is conducive to trade with customers, its extended mission supports the year-round education of all ages. Many students of all ages attend the Sunbelt Ag Expo each year. Those companies and educational partners that have realized the value of youth as tomorrow’s agricultural leaders work hard to connect with the students by providing unique, youth educational opportunities.
The Sunbelt Ag Expo is proud to partner with over 14 colleges and universities from the southeast. Plan to visit with your college of choice, learn about degree programs and special scholarships, meet with other students and your future college professors. Students have the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with admissions counselors without ever leaving the Expo grounds. Plan to visit many schools in one day without all of the excess travel to individual campuses.
In addition, three youth specific activities are planned. Students can participate in the Advocacy in Action Contest sponsored by Georgia Farm Bureau. New in 2021, this event will feature an opportunity for students to delve into the promotion of agriculture and the latest ag technology while considering current ag policies affecting our country. Farm Credit will sponsor the always popular Ag Mechanics Contest. Students and schools enter intricate and technical masterpieces that are judged and then displayed during the show for the public to see. Our most popular contest for students, the Youth Educational Challenges, will return in 2021 with many enhancements and an opportunity for teachers to join in a bit of friendly competition with their students. These content specific contests are sponsored by Country Financial. All participating students receive a meal provided by AgriSupply Company and Coca-Cola.
A day – or even three – at the Expo will not leave you disappointed. No matter how young or old, you will learn and leave more knowledgeable about the future of agriculture. Be sure to bring the students along with you. Check back in August to learn more about each contest being offered for students in 2021. We can’t wait to welcome all of you to this year’s Expo!
It takes a village to operate a non-profit research farm. Because of long-term relationships with many companies in the industry, the Darrell Williams Research Farm located at the Sunbelt Ag Expo is able to carry out world class research to support continued technological advancements in the industry.
In the field, the farm crew is currently running three John Deere tractors on loan from Lasseter Tractor Company in Moultrie, GA. In addition, all of the hay implements utilized on the farm are sponsored by Kubota. Annually, Kubota hosts a dealer hay school featuring all of the latest hay equipment releases. KMC, located in Tifton, GA, recently rebuilt the farm’s strip till rig and provides the Expo with the use of a new peanut picker each season. The Sunbelt Ag Expo is grateful to benefit from the generosity of a partnership between AgroLiquid, Vantage Southeast, and Precision Planting. These entities worked together to completely rebuild the Research Farm’s planter just in time for planting season. Irrigation is of great importance on the farm. Two irrigation companies provide irrigation systems – Reinke Manufacturing Co. and Valley Irrigation. Specialty Sales Co., located in Sumner, GA, contributes a 6-row, twin row Monosem peanut planter. In addition, LMC Ag out of Albany, GA provides an 18-row, 3-pt hitch sprayer. Rounding out the farm, Hayes LTI in Camilla, GA recently completed a total rebuild of the farm’s 1,200 gallon nurse tank.
This equipment will be running wide-open between now and the end of the year. We look forward to taking you along on the journey.
The Expo’s farm crew works closely with Nutrien Ag Solutions each year. They conduct quite a bit of their research on the Expo Farm and this year is no different. They started with corn seed variety trials. In addition, Nutrien will have infurrow corn plots as well as plots testing 2×2 treatments. Jeremy Kichler, Colquitt County’s Extension Coordinator, and Dr. Simerjeet Virk, UGA Assistant Professor and Extension Precision Ag Specialist in Crop and Soil Sciences, are also conducting corn research on the research farm. They have over 50 plots testing different seed varieties, seed population, infurrow treatments and fungicide applications. AgroLiquid, a plant nutrition manufacturer, has 2 plots – one infurrow and one 2×2. DEKALB, Pioneer, DynaGro, Progeny and Syngenta also have plots planted that will feature their top seed varieties.
Having now been in the ground for over a week, the seeds have germinated and there is a stand of young corn plants on the Research Farm.