On with the show

04/01/2009 02:00:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Despite dry days, this year’s attendance at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, Calif., seemed to be off from previous years.

Although expo officials don’t release actual attendance figures, several long-time vendors say they noticed the thoroughfares just didn’t seem as crowded and the tents weren’t as packed with attendees as they’ve been in the past.

Some exhibitors blame California’s drought, which has prompted state and federal water project officials to tell growers to expect no water deliveries this year. Growers on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side will be most severely hit.

Towns, such as Mendota, Los Banos and Huron, that rely on agriculture and ag-related businesses for the bulk of their economy, already are feeling the pinch.

Others exhibitors blame the overall economic malaise for a downturn in attendance.

Nevertheless, some exhibitors said the people who did stop by their booths were serious, and they made good contacts.

The three-day World Ag Expo, known as the Tulare Farm Show by old-timers, features more than 1,600 exhibitors and 2.6 million square feet of show space.

Here are just a few of the innovative products that were showcased at the event, now in its 42nd year.

New tractor line

Agco Corp. of Duluth, Ga., introduced the DT Series of row-crop tractors for the professional farmer market that it calls “game changers.”

The tractors range in size from 205 PTO horsepower to 274 PTO hp.

The designs, made from the ground up, have been three years in the works and are based on input from customer focus groups, Agco officials say. The cab, for example, is 28 percent lager than previous cabs and features 67 to 68 square feet of glass for increased visibility.

All of the tractors in the lineup feature CVT--or continuously variable transmission--for improved fuel efficiency. The engines also meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier III emissions requirements.

For more information, visit www.agcoiron.com.

Combine cultivation steps into one pass

Whether you choose the 41-foot- or the 45-foot-long unit, the Optimizer combines several cultivation practices into one pass, saving time, fuel and money, says Kevin McDonald, founder of Tillage International Inc. in Turlock, Calif.

Because you make fewer passes, you also help reduce the amount of pollution emitted during cultivation. In fact, you may even be able to qualify for Environmental Quality Incentive Program cost-share funds for using the unit, depending on the priorities set by local conservation committee, McDonald says.

The smaller unit requires a tractor with at least 400 horsepower to pull it, whereas theww larger unit requires a tractor with at least 500 hp.

For more information, e-mail onepasstillage@yahoo.com.

Manage center-pivots with your cell phone

For the past few years, users of Valley’s Tracker center-pivot irrigation management system have been able to receive alerts sent to their cell phones, pagers or computers.

Now the Valley, Neb.-based company has taken the technology a step further with Tracker Mobile, which allows irrigators to manage center-pivot systems using a SmartPhone equipped with Windows Mobile software.

Growers can start and stop center-pivots, change sprinkler direction and diagnose field problems using a Smartphone, such as a Blackberry.

Tracker Mobile works with Valley’s Tracker2 and Tracker SP control panels.

For more information, visit www.valleytracker.com.

Electronic tree sensor for sprayers

After four years of field testing, Progressive Ag of Modesto, Calif., has introduced the LectroSense sensor for use on its LectroBlast electrostatic sprayers.

The simple-to-use system is based on an electronic sensor rather than sonar or computers.

A sensor is attched to a break-way boom, which is mounted on the each side of the sprayer. When the sensor detects a tree, it signals the sprayer to turn on. If no tree is present, it signals to the sprayer to turn off.

It can cut chemical use up to 75 percent, according to Progressive Ag officials.

The sensor was designed for use in uniform young orchards or vineyards until the canopies close over. It can be mounted on older or new LectroBlast sprayers.

For more information, visit www.proaginc.com.

Touchscreen display with GPS receivers

The new touch-screen AgGPS FmX integrated display from Trimble Agriculture Division in Westminster, Colo., allows you to steer the tractor you’re driving as well as the implement you’re pulling.

The display can even handle a dual-masted scraper outfitted with a global positioning system antennae on each side, providing the user with all of the information on one screen.

The unit features two GPS and GLONASS receivers. GLONASS is a series of Russian GPS satellites. When coupled with an RTK tower, receiver can provide sub-inch accuracy.

The display also is 35 percent larger than earlier units with better visibility and a brighter screen.

For more information, visit www.trimble.com.

Propane-fueled truck

A Ford F-150 pick-up truck that was converted to run entirely on propane could save a driver 50 percent to 70 percent per mile in fuel costs, say officials with the Washington, D.C.-based Propane Education & Research Council.

Roush of Livonia, Mich., showcased the pick-up truck that was converted to run entirely on propane.

Drivers can opt for a 25-gallon propane tank mounted under the pick-up bed where the spare tire typically would be. A 59-gallon tank is mounted in the back of the pick-up bed.

The 25-gallon tank would take the truck about 250 miles whereas the 59-gallon tank would take the truck about 590 miles, says Mark Leitman, director of agriculture programs for the Propane group.

Propane also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, producing 62.7 kilograms of carbon dioxide per 1 million Btus. That compares with 70.5 kilograms for gasoline and 72.5 kilograms for diesel.

Conversion kits run about $7,500 to $8,500 apiece, according to Roush.

For more information, visit www.roushperformance.com/propane.shtml

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