Update On Next Week's Farm Progress Hay Expo
Friday, June 15th, 2012
The Farm Progress Hay Expo, the nation's largest two-day hay event, is all set to be held June 20 and 21 at the Central Iowa Expo site near Boone, Iowa. (The Central Iowa Expo facility is where the Farm Progress Show is held in Iowa, as well.)
Hay and forage production changes
Growers in Iowa and the Upper Midwest often find themselves having to harvest hay between rains, reports Rod Swoboda, Wallaces Farmer editor. Hay producers and custom harvesters are looking for equipment that helps them put up quality forage in as little time as possible. Faster, more consistent drying of hay is what they're after. It's always been difficult getting hay to dry and harvested without having it rained on. But with the rainfall patterns of the past few years, it seems like there's even less opportunity.
Weather complications challenge farmers' ability to produce quality hay. This is creating more interest in chopping alfalfa and other forage crops for silage or haylage, which requires less drying time than baling hay. Equipment dealers in dairy production areas say more acres of alfalfa and other forages are being chopped because it allows farmers to put up a quality feed without as many weather complications.
A highlight of the Hay Expo is the working field demonstrations. Demonstrations cover the process to harvest forages from beginning to end.
"Demonstrations begin in the morning with mowing, conditioning and chopping, then continue in the afternoon with raking, baling and hay handling," said Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress national events manager. "Watching the machines operate side by side under actual field conditions is an excellent opportunity for producers."
Choppers at the Hay Expo will follow various types of rakes and tedders. Rakes and windrow mergers put mowed hay into windrows. Tedders and windrow inverters are sometimes used afterward to lightly lift the hay, so air can move under it and speed drying. These implements handle drying forage more gently and don't knock the leaves off like a second pass with a rake would.
New ideas and innovations
At Hay Expo, producers see a wide array of hay production equipment in action and can talk with manufacturers about the equipment. Power mergers pile the mowed hay into massive windrows. The swath or windrow merger is a machine that allows self-propelled harvesters to make more efficient use of their harvesting capacity. That advantage appeals especially to custom harvesters.
At this year's Hay Expo, new innovations in hay balers and bale handling equipment will be demonstrated, too.
Changes occurring in the livestock industry are creating demand for different kinds of forage handling equipment. For example, cattle feeders are looking at bale processors.
An increasing number of producers are building monoslope housing for cattle or are using hoop facilities. They are interested in processors for grinding hay or stover bales for feed, and for grinding cornstalks or straw for bedding. Processors can unroll round bales into a feedbunk or blow stalks into hoop structures. The operator doesn't even have to get out and open a gate.
Farmers also want greater productivity in mowers. They're buying bigger mowers, so one person can do the job with less help, eliminating the need for two smaller mowers to do a timely job.
Besides higher-capacity equipment, interest still exists in the traditional, smaller-sized haying machines. Markets for small square bales include the horse industry and smaller-acreage farmers. While hay acres in Iowa have declined in recent years, demand for stover harvesters is rising - both for bedding and renewable energy production. Cornstalk and corncob collection machinery is a new wrinkle.
Educational seminars and exhibits
This year's Farm Progress Hay Expo will feature more educational sessions relevant to hay and forage production presented by Iowa State University.
Educational exhibits by ISU Extension and Outreach, and additional agencies and organizations, will have educational exhibits, with specialists on hand to answer your forage and livestock production and soil conservation questions.
In addition to the educational program, ISU Extension will have displays focusing on various forage topics. Those displays include several that focus on the cellulosic industry including growing miscanthus, addressing what is considered clean biomass, strategic placement of perennial grasses for biofuel production, how removing corn stover influences future fertility management. The educational displays will also cover alfalfa topics including recommendations for alfalfa fertilizer, alfalfa insect pests, best alfalfa production practices and alfalfa diseases and fungicide options.
A 10-acre exhibit field will display exhibits from the major and shortline hay and forage equipment manufacturers, seed, crop protection products, storage facility suppliers, and numerous related product suppliers.
"The exhibit field is the place to discuss seed, hay marketing, crop production, conservation and more. There will be educational exhibits, hay and forage grounds, and others," notes Jungmann.
Plan now to attend the show
The 2012 Farm Progress Hay Expo will be held June 20 and 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The show site is located off Highway 30 at its intersection with Highway 17 east of Boone, Iowa, at the Central Iowa Expo site. Admission is free; parking is $10 per vehicle. The public is welcome. For more information, visit www.HayExpo.com or call 866-264-7469.