Vermeer’s hay equipment

Jared Liles and Jason Hamilton fielded questions about Vermeer’s hay equipment. The employees of the Pella, Iowa-based company said there is interest in silage hay and haylage this year.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Looking for ways to be more efficient, farmers attending the National Farm Machinery Show scouted exhibits for products that could help their bottom lines.

Some looked for attachments, upgrades or parts for existing equipment, some for storage and drying to expand marketing options, and others for alternative income ideas.

Brothers Skip and Brian Hazel of Lanesboro, Minn., chatted with a Beck’s Hybrids representative, giving “a new perspective on old agronomy,” for some ideas about improving efficiency without investing a lot of money.

“We’re always looking for updates,” said Brian Hazel.

He said his son tried boron as an additive. Three years in a row in Beck’s Practical Farm Research trials, where boron was applied with a fungicide it provided a return on investment averaging $10.85 per acre, according to the company.

“We rely on these guys to try things,” Brian said.

The corn, soybean and alfalfa farmers said that with current commodity prices, it’s hard to justify making any big purchases. Instead, they are focusing on attachments to equipment they already have to make it better.

The Hazel brothers decided that a Precision Planting fertilizer attachment was a good buy.

“It solves a problem we were having,” Brian said.

Others farmers sought parts to repair or update equipment. The booth for Worthington Ag Products was always full of people seeking a part to get things going for cropping in 2019. The parts supplier has eight locations, including in Indiana, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin in the Midwest.

Hemp & hay harvest

Trendy topics like industrial hemp production brought more attention this year to those among the 890 exhibitors who featured equipment for the expanding industry.

Checchi & Magli, an Italian company also known as C&M, has been at the show for at least 15 years, but got new attention this year for their hemp transplanting equipment in light of the legalization of industrial hemp in the new farm bill, said Teresa Allen of Allen International, the North American office for C&M.

The company, which sells equipment for transplanting tomatoes, cucumbers, tobacco, potatoes and other crops, first promoted its role in the hemp industry more than a year ago in Colorado. While she was in Kentucky Feb. 13-16, her husband, Grant, was at a World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, where there was also interest in the hemp and veggie transplanting equipment.

David McConnell and his family from Virginia were shopping for hay equipment.

“We had our best year for hay in four years,” said the beef producer, who grows 1,400 acres of hay. But he is well aware of the shortage in other parts of the country.

Missouri is one of the states where the hay shortage is being felt, said Jared Liles of Vermeer, which specializes in hay equipment. The poor hay harvest in 2018 was compounded by the fact that many Missouri farmers sent hay to Oklahoma to help farmers with losses from the wildfires in April, Liles said.

“The hay shortage is pretty prominent,” he said.

Jason Hamilton of Vermeer, a Pella, Iowa-based company said most of the farmers he talked to were “cautiously optimistic” this year.

New cover crop options

Interest in cover crops, another on-going trend at the show, was reflected at companies such as Unverferth which introduced a new cover crop roller option for its Ripper-Stripper strip-tillage tool.

Farmers also gathered around Salford and other displays of cover crop seeders.

Kade Louiso, of West Union, Ohio, bought a cover crop seeder last year.

Fellow southern Ohio crop farmer John Delabar of Wheelersburg directed his attention to grain bins and dryers. He needs more storage to help speed things up at harvest time, he said.

Other farmers looking at grain bins said they wanted to add extra storage to give them more flexibility in marketing.

Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.