Sunbelt Expo 2016: Your guide to the best Sunbelt ever

Sunbelt Expo 2016: Your guide to the best Sunbelt ever

The Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition will be Oct. 18- 20. The Expo is a tradition that has become a fixture in South Georgia since the first show took place in 1978.

The Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition will be Oct. 18- 20. The Expo is a tradition that has become a fixture in South Georgia since the first show took place in 1978.

The Expo is held each year at Spence Field, an old airbase that has been converted into a modern facility with the best in indoor exhibition buildings, outdoor exhibition space, along with a large research farm near the town of Moultrie, Ga.

Over the years, the Expo has come to epitomize the season of fall in the Sunbelt states. The Sunbelt Expo truly is North America’s Premier Farm Show.

Come to this show and you will see farm-related exhibits on 100 acres. The site includes a 600-acre working research farm where all of the major crops grown in the Southeast will be harvested. These crops include cotton, peanuts, corn, soybeans and bermudagrass hay. Also during the show, tillage will take place on the land where the field crops were grown and harvested.

Many people have worked long hours to make sure your experience at Expo will be both memorable and valuable for your farming operation. You’ll see the results of this hard work when you come to the show and before the show begins when you read this official program.

Think of this official show guide as you would a valuable farm tool. Read it, study it and use it to plan your visit to the exhibits. This program will help you make the most of your time at the Expo by allowing you to select and to visit those exhibits that will make you a better farmer.

The Expo show dates in mid October were originally selected to minimize the likelihood of rain. And over the previous 38 years, there have been very few days that were adversely impacted by weather. But if it does rain, you’ll find plenty of indoor exhibit space where you can profitably spend your time until the precipitation ceases.

With more than 1,200 exhibits, it is true that you will not be able to see every exhibit, even if you spend all three days at the farm show. So plan to make the best use of your time at the show. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing during your trip to the Expo. Typically, the mornings at Expo tend to be cool and the weather heats up in the afternoons.

Be sure to check out the South Carolina spotlight state exhibit. The diversity of agriculture in the Palmetto State will be on full display in the spotlight state exhibit. Farm organizations and agricultural colleges and universities will staff the displays in the spotlight state exhibit building. Agricultural diversity from the Palmetto State also will be well represented in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards. South Carolina’s Farmer of the Year this year is a professional beekeeper and honey producer.

The Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards will celebrate the 27th selection of the overall Farmer of the Year to be announced on the opening day of the show. During the 27 years of the award, Swisher International has contributed well over $1 million in prizes and other honors to farmers of the Southeast.

In this official Expo program, you’ll be able to read about the many accomplishments of the ten outstanding farmers who have been named as state recipients of this year’s Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year awards.

In the exhibit grounds, the aquaculture and fish pond exhibit section has undergone a major expansion with new displays on the exciting production technology of aquaponics.

Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. In aquaponics, conventional fish culture is combined with hydroponics to produce plants in greenhouses. The water and nutrients excreted from fish raised in tanks is used to fertilize the greenhouse plants. After the plants use the water and nutrients, the water is recirculated back to the tanks where the fish are grown. You’ll see the new aquaponics greenhouse in the northern end of the exhibit grounds, near the alpaca exhibits.

The aquaponics system you’ll see at Expo will be provided by the HATponics firm. A new highlight in the aquaculture exhibits will feature a gourmet chef who will be conducting cooking demonstrations featuring catfish and other farm-raised seafood.

Harvesting of the Expo crops along with tillage and other land preparation practices in the fields are among the highlights of the equipment demonstrations at the farm show.

In fact, the harvesting and tillage field demonstrations along with the driving ranges for tractors, pickups and all terrain vehicles help to set the Expo apart from other static farm shows.

The Expo’s research farm is named after longtime Expo farm manager Darrell Williams. This farm continues to be a proving ground for the latest in agricultural technology. For instance, a 22-acre crop plot is providing new information on how to control herbicide-resistant pigweed.

Peanut plots on the farm are providing new information on fertilizer benefits, new varieties and whether or not plant growth regulators will improve yields.

Forage work on the farm includes evaluations of bermudagrass varieties and the testing of possible controls for stem maggot insect pests.

Other studies at the Expo farm are aimed at evaluating the costs and efficiency of using propane gas to fuel irrigation systems.

One of the most popular demonstrations in the crop fields feature the tractor- driving ranges offered by major farm equipment manufacturers. This year, a special driving range will be offered for manufacturers of compact tractors and tractors with less than 50 horsepower. The compact tractor driving range made its debut at the 2015 Sunbelt Expo, and will be expanded this year to include tractors from several manufacturers.

This and other driving ranges will be located in the crop fields, and the best way to reach these sites will be to ride on the Expo’s shuttle wagons. The shuttles will once again offer shaded tractor-drawn rides out to the fields where the harvesting and tillage and other special displays can be found.

The Expo has had strong support over its long history from land grant colleges and historically black agricultural colleges and universities, along with many other junior colleges and technical colleges serving students in the southeastern states. Many of these schools will have Expo exhibits this year that will offer valuable information to prospective and current students, alumni and friends.

The Expo has set aside special locations for exhibits related to various phases of the farming industry. For example, animal agriculture will be well represented with exhibits and demonstrations focusing on horses, beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep and goats, poultry and aquaculture or fish farming.

You’ll see a wide assortment of tractors and farming equipment in many of the outside exhibits. These equipment displays will offer products that can be used on both large and small farms.

Exhibits in the agribusiness buildings will focus on precision farming services, hunting and fishing exhibits and governmental agencies serving farmers. You’ll see many other farm-related services and products in the agribusiness buildings located down the center of the show grounds.

Some of the other special exhibit sections will offer a wide array of irrigation equipment, pickups and trucks, forestry equipment and sawmills. Other exhibit sections focus on electricity, propane gas and all terrain vehicles.

The American Grand Finals stock dog trials remain one of the Expo’s most popular attractions. Another popular exhibit section is the antique tractors. The antique tractors will also parade through the exhibit grounds each afternoon at 2 p.m.

Overall, you’ll find more than 1,200 exhibits worthy of your time. Visit Highland Precision Ag. This company provides information for farmers from soil sampling through marketing, and also offers unmanned aerial vehicle flights over farms to provide production information on growing better crops.  Highland Precision Ag is dedicated to assisting growers implement precision farming tactics in order to make fast and accurate decisions in identifying diseases, monitoring crop growth and maximizing yield—all from a user-friendly dashboard.

The Sustainable Living exhibit can be found in the western section of the exhibit grounds. There you’ll see garden plots and a host of exhibits geared to small farms and for folks who simply enjoy country living. For instance, Bekaert will offer an exhibit on fencing basics and how to build and to brace a simple fence. In addition, Bekaert will exhibit its full line of fencing products (at location D-8).

Solis Tractor USA is a new manufacturer of small tractors, specializing in 24- to 60-horsepower tractors. This company will introduce its tractor line for the first time to the Sunbelt market during this year’s Expo.

The National Corn Growers Association will exhibit a NASCAR racing car that has been equipped to run on ethanol. This exhibit will offer information on the many benefits of American grown ethanol and other biofuels.

If wild hogs are causing problems on your farm, check out an exhibit that will be co-sponsored by both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Georgia. You’ll be able to find valuable information on what can be done to control feral hogs.

You may have seen television ads for My Pillow. At Expo, you’ll be able to see and try out these pillows in person in an exhibit in the Family Living building.

Komet is a new exhibitor that is focused on getting the most from irrigation nozzle tips. The company built a small arm and will show sprinkler heads side by side, so you can see how each one applies water to crops. The exhibit will offer end guns and nozzles that will show off water spray patterns as irrigation is applied over a small pond in the exhibit area.

Hays LTI will be opening a new manufacturing plant in Camilla, Ga., and will exhibit its liquid transport products and new products.

AGCO is expected to introduce some new brands of tractors at this year’s Sunbelt Ag Expo. You’ll also see a new grain bin at the AGCO exhibit, since the company has acquired the grain bin business of GSI.

Zetor will be moving and expanding its tractor exhibit.

Suwannee Equipment will be expanding its exhibit. The company is a representative for a number of different farm equipment manufacturers.

Farmers who are disabled are especially invited to attend this year’s Expo. In previous years, the Agrability Project has been an exhibit in the agribusiness buildings. This year, that exhibit has been transformed into a larger display under the name of Georgia Farm Again. Georgia Farm Again will have outside exhibit space with exhibits on handicap accessible tractor cabs, flab bed trucks with chair lifts, chair lifts for tractors, and track chairs that can double as wheelchairs for use in traveling over rough land.

The show hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, and from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Thursday. Admission cost is $10 per person or $20 for a three-day pass. Children age ten and under are admitted free with adults.

During the show, private and charter airplanes can land next to the exhibits on a 4,500-foot-long runway controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Sunbelt Expo’s permanent home is located on 1,680 acres, four miles southeast of U.S. Highway 319 on Highway 133 near Moultrie, Ga.

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