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Ohio Farm Science Review: Something for everyone
The Ohio Farm Science Review is one of my favorite outdoor events. It’s a blend of presentations, demonstrations and exhibits geared to agriculture in the eastern Corn Belt. I attended all 3 days this year, as I do many years, and didn’t come close to taking it all in. There’s a lot to see and a lot of people to talk to.
The OFSR is held each September at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center along Interstate 70 a few miles west of Columbus. It’s a permanent site with lots of trees, buildings and land for harvesting, tillage, tiling and conservation demonstrations. Plus there are lots of presentations by specialists from Ohio State University and Purdue University in Indiana.
Even though the show puts a lot of emphasis on commercial agriculture, it still has the feel and flair of a state fair. FFA members come by the busload, and there are lots of presentations and exhibits geared to landscaping and small farms. Just over 124,000 people attended this year’s show. Early harvest of both corn and soybeans trimmed the crowd a bit from 2009.
The show has entertainment, also. It features scores of antique tractors from various manufacturers, some of which are no longer in business. I’ve entered the grounds by the back gate for so long that it seems like the front gate to me. One of the first things I see each year is an extensive display of vintage Massey Harris and Massey Ferguson tractors. This year, my eyes immediately went to this Massey Harris 44 owned by Larry Tourney of Urbana, Ohio. It’s a lot like the one I plowed with as a kid.
While the early crop maturity may have compelled some farmers to stay home and harvest, it contributed to good conditions for the field demonstrations. The farm is carved into plots for the harvesting, tillage and tiling demonstrations. There’s even an area in which manure application equipment is demonstrated.
With rain in the forecast for the second day of the show, crowds flocked to the harvesting demonstrations on the first day of the show. Ropes kept the spectators safe, but farther from the action than many of them wanted to be.
As the main crowd watched the combines in action, I made my way over to the tillage area. The disk chisels and coulter machines were parked, but a handful of strip-till machines, like this Hiniker rig, were running.
So was this rig from Dawn Equipment. Look closely and you will see it was running at a diagonal to earlier passes. Company president Jim Bassett was at the wheel, and he had already used up his allotted space for that day.
Access to people who really know their equipment is one of the beauties of the OFSR. Here, Jim Bassett is discussing strip-till with individual farmers. I have strip-tilled corn for years and have plenty of questions of my own, but I really like to hear what potential users want to know.
Regarding that parked equipment I mentioned above, I was amused when I saw how the safety chain on one implement was attached to the tractor. I’m going to go way out on a limb here and speculate that that plastic tie isn’t a grade 70 -- or even a grade 43.
If tillage isn’t your thing, the OFSR had you covered there, too—with cover crops. Jim Hoorman, an Extension educator in Mercer County, Ohio, designed this cover crop display. (His retired father, John, volunteered his time and labor to build it.) Jim wanted to show what was going on below ground as well as above ground. “People are amazed at how much root growth there is with some cover crops,” he says. The Mason jars hold seed of the various species, many of which are foreign to most of us.
I’ve seen this sign on the edge of the show grounds before, and find it a bit unnerving. I think it is pointing straight ahead to a parking area for trailers and equipment not being used. But, it could be pointing up, with a different connotation. If so, who issues the permits?