Team FIN farmer Daryl Bridenbaugh, from NW Ohio, took the trip to World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., to find an array of new equipment and products.
I went to The World Ag Expo in California in early February. It is an outdoor show and the grounds are around 60 acres. I spent 3 days there and still didn't see everything. Dairy equipment was the most prominent product on display. There were maybe 120 booths with all sorts of related products. Dairy is huge in California. We were told that one county alone has 1 million cows. There were about 50 booths with fertilizer products; most were organic liquid sprays. Some of the exhibitors were from India and some were from China. One of my favorites was Kip Cullers special blend. It is a liquid and is being sold by Conklin representatives. The main ingredients are listed on the label, but some of the rest are trade secrets known only by Kip. Another favorite of mine was Humic and Black Gypsum combination granules marketed by The Andersons in Maumee, Ohio; their web site is www.AndersonsHumates.com . Another booth was selling sea kelp which is an organic soil conditioner and plant stimulator. It is loaded with 70 trace minerals and can also be fed to cattle, poultry and hogs. It is marketed by Kelzyme (R) in Mill City, Nevada, www.kelzyme.com .
There were all kinds of equipment to harvest vegetable, fruit and nut crops. A lot of them boast imaginative uses of plastic to gently handle these crops. Also, they use all kinds of hydraulic motors to shake the nut trees and to drive saw blades that prune the orchards and vineyards. It is an interesting mental exercise to look at this machinery which is rapidly being refined as engineers figure out new ways to bend and shape metal, etc.
Probably the wildest piece of equipment on display was the Nuhn Lagoon Crawler. It is a remotely controlled, 4-wheel drive mechanical Lock Ness monster that drives into a lagoon and then floats around as the drive wheels and the lagoon pump agitate the manure. It is steered by using discharge outlets on all 4 sides to push it whichever way the operator desires. It is powered by a Cummins 6.7 liter engine. Its list price is $150,000. The company's website is: www.nuhn.ca .
There were about 50 booths that had all kinds of irrigation equipment on display. There was only one booth with drainage tile. There were many display lots of short line companies that market heavy duty rippers, discs, and combination tools. While we in the mid-West are interested in tools that lightly feather the ground, California farmers are more interested in tools that completely destroy the residue from the previous crop so that they can immediately plant their next crop. Some farmers plant as many as 4 crops of quick growing vegetables (like lettuce) a year. Since there are no freezing and thawing cycles, they must deep rip. Some of the rippers can go up to 7 feet deep. Track tractors are especially popular out there. I talked to a John Deere dealer from the Salinas valley and he said the only 9000 Series tractors that he sells are track machines. He said that 90% of the 8000 Series that he sells are track machines. Farmers like the flotation of the tractors and the narrow transport width.
There were lots of tub grinders to make mulch out of trees and grapevines that have outlived their productivity. There were lots of compost turners and even a baler that baled pruned limbs into round bales. This is all necessary due to air pollution rules and fire concerns that virtually prohibit burning. It was interesting to learn that people who have older tractors, trucks, self-propelled equipment and irrigation pumps can have new Tier IV engines installed and receive payment for up to 85% of the cost from California government sources. The air quality has improved because of all the changes in engines in the last several years. All the tractor makers had their large final Tier IV tractors on display. All of them have huge chambers that the exhaust gasses pass through. They are all located on the right hand side of the tractor cab where the exhaust pipes and mufflers used to be. All the tractors are very quiet because of these huge chambers. Even John Deere is now using diesel exhaust fluid on their big tractors to control emissions just as Case IH, New Holland and the AGCO brand tractors have done for the last several years.
Converting tractors to LED lighting is huge now. Tiger Lights had their conversion lights on display - www.tigerlights.com . One of my favorite booths was Gensco Tires. They buy used aircraft tires and resell them for ag use. They are so tough and have so many plies that they resist flats from thorns and other sharp objects. They are perfect for stubble choppers. Their web site is www.noflats.com.
The Toyota Tundra was official truck of the show so there were a lot of them in use around the grounds. It is interesting to note that in the week and a half that I was in California (not just at the show) I saw many Tundras; they are extremely popular there where people understand Toyota's dependability and longevity.
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