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Plenty in the pipeline

However the drought plays out this year, it likely won't stop a good flow of new products and services that are headed to the marketplace. At least that was the impression gleaned from the trade show of the Agricultural Media Summit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in August. Booth space at the InfoExpo, as the show is called, was sold out. There were a number of new companies on hand, a few that seemed to be entirely new to ag. Many were handing out flash drives full of new product information and gave off a glow of business being good.

The precision ag suppliers were going great guns. Lori Costello, marketing communications manager for Ag Leader, had a hard time singling out only one new product to discuss. She settled on the company's new hydraulic downforce system for the planter, which she thinks will be one of the most popular new products with farmers this spring.

Seed companies were out in full force, too. There were a lot of questions from the media about drought-tolerant corn, as you might expect. Syngenta was touting its “innovative R&D pipeline” of new traits. Alta Seeds enthused about its new brachytic forage, a forage sorghum the company expects will compete with corn silage for acres next season.

Jerry Harrington, a DuPont Pioneer representative, said he expects the company to expand the number of its drought-tolerant Optimum AQUAmax products this year. He also provided a long list of new products in the company's R&D pipeline.

On another front, The Climate Corporation was sporting a new suite of insurance products for farmers. The company pulled back the curtain a little to reveal some cool new tools it will be unveiling in the year ahead, including a field-level weather reporting system, something that will complement its core offering, Total Weather Insurance.

The crop-protection sector appears to be in an expansion mode. For example, Danish company Cheminova, which has had good success recently with its cotton pesticide, Topguard, said it is planning to raise its low-profile presence in the U.S. this year and begin offering a full mix of herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.

The biologicals industry seemed ripe with innovation, too. A representative from Novoenzymes gave an enthusiastic presentation about a host of new biological products for improving plant and livestock health.

Jerry Ecklund from Unverferth attracted media attention with his company's new machinery offerings. Unverferth is bringing out a new wagon and seed tender this fall, and it has more innovation in the works.

The livestock world was not ignored at the show. Vermeer's Katie Monroe talked about several innovations, including the company's new bale processor. The company hosted its own media event in late August to showcase a range of new product introductions.

The general optimism at InfoExpo was well supported, said Charlie O'Brien, vice president of ag services for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. In the machinery sector, he said, demand rallied in 2012, with 70% of member companies reporting increased demand over the previous year.

“Optimism about the economy over the next 12 months is nearly as strong,” he said.

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