Farmers flocked to Boone, Iowa this week from around the world for the Farm Progress Show.
Considered the nation’s largest outdoor agricultural event, the three-day expo featured hundreds of exhibitors touting the latest and greatest developments in agriculture. Yet while the show may make farmers feel like a kid in the candy store, this year they need to weigh their buying decisions carefully as fuel and fertilizer costs remain high.
“A lot of these are things you can afford in about 10 years from now,” Adam Ledvina said with a laugh. “But it’s worth coming to see what’s going on and all the new ideas.”
Ledvina owns and operates a goat meat business in Chelsea, Iowa. He stood inside the Varied Industries tent – a tent with many small vendors – handing out individual bags of popcorn to passers-by and promoting the use of cover crops for the Practical Farmers organization of Iowa.
He also had time to check out the many Farm Progress Show offerings and look at the cattle trailers. Ledvina said he wanted to upgrade to a bigger one with more space to transport his goats around the state to manage forests and eliminate invasive species.
“All of these different competitors are very close to each other,” he said. “You can really compare notes. It’s nice to grab a pen and paper, write all the things down, then go measure the other things and see exactly what you’re looking for.
Dan Hanson, who farms corn and soybeans near Fort Dodge, Iowa, reviewed a strip-tillage machine from Environmental Tillage Systems that could help minimize soil erosion while reducing the cost of tillage. fertilizer and fuel. Strip tillage is a form of conservation where growers plant and plow in narrow rows.
“You have to limit what you can buy,” Hanson said, “but you have to stay on top of some of them because the future is changing. It’s always changed in farming. You need to look where your money would be best spent when you have a limited amount of money to spend.
As farmers deal with these challenges, some companies said the high cost of inputs made them more competitive.
Caitlin Keck, director of marketing for Environmental Tillage Systems, said fertilizer and other inputs are so expensive that it attracts some customers to the products her company sells. The Farm Progress Show, she said, is great for business and helps build awareness of her company’s brand and strip tillage.
“Farmers are becoming more aware of how to use things like fertilizer more efficiently,” Keck said, “and are looking at options like strip tillage.”
The Farm Progress Show alternates between Boone, Iowa and Decatur, Illinois each year. He hadn’t been in Iowa since 2018 due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic cancellation.
New: Recycled asphalt bonded with soybean oil
New equipment and technology weren’t the only buzzwords at the Farm Progress Show: soybeans are leading the way to the future.
This year, a partnership between the Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa State University, Central Iowa Expo, and the Farm Progress Show established an asphalt base of nearly 43,000 square feet on the floor of the Varied Industries Tent, which includes about 150 exhibitors, including many small vendors.
But it’s not just any asphalt. It is recycled asphalt bonded by a type of soybean oil called high oleic soybean oil which is produced from the seeds of soybean plants. The asphalt uses more than 2,300 pounds of soybean oil, or the equivalent of 215 bushels of soybeans.
“It’s very rare that we as farmers know where that end use is in addition to eating it,” said Robb Ewoldt, president of the Iowa Soybean Association. “And here we can walk on it. We can show what we’ve done in the Midwest to promote recyclable and environmentally friendly practices.
The technology is being tested in Alabama and could be used to pave rural roads in the future.
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This story was produced in partnership with Harvest Public Media, a collaboration of public media newsrooms in the Midwest. It reports on food systems, agriculture and rural issues. Follow Harvest on Twitter: @HarvestPM
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