1/26/2013 7:00 AM
By Andrew Jenner Virginia Correspondent
FISHERSVILLE, Va. — On a cold, dreary day, with rain giving way to snow, the 2013 Virginia Farm Show offered a break from the weather and a chance to check out the latest and greatest in farm equipment and supplies last week at Augusta Expoland.
“It’s like Gatorade in a pellet form,” said George Clayton, a sales manager with TechMix, describing his company’s BlueLite product, a feed supplement that can reduce production loss to heat stress in dairy cattle by up to 50 percent.
The recently introduced product, Clayton said, attracted significant interest from dairy farmers who visited his booth at the farm show.
On the opposite side of the show grounds, Daniel Brunk, with Iva Manufacturing, debuted a swing-away induction tank that he designed to make it easier to mix chemicals into a sprayer.
Brunk said personal experience with the difficulties of clambering on top of a sprayer tank provided inspiration for the device, which allows a farmer to add chemicals to a sprayer through a small, easy-to-reach tank that swings down out of the way when not in use.
Rather than showing off something brand new, however, many vendors had on display the latest models from their product lines, reflecting small improvements and refinements based on user feedback or changing specifications.
At the Independent Ag Equipment booth, sales representative Josh Moe was promoting the latest hardware and catalogs for the spraying and spreader equipment his company sells.
Moe said his newest products this year are simply new models with updates and adjustments to existing equipment. His industry in general, he added, is changing quickly to keep up with new advances and consumer interest in self-propelled equipment, GPS technology and other automated systems.
Outside at the Wood-Mizer booth, Chad Sanders and his colleagues had set up several of the company’s latest-model portable sawmills for demonstration.
Sanders noted that farm shows generally aren’t a time to close sales on large, new pieces of equipment like these. Instead, show-goers have the opportunity to see them in action, look them over in detail, ask questions, and perhaps — months or even years down the road — decide they’re ready to open up their wallets.
Still other vendors just want to keep a good thing going: no new models, no changes.
“(I’m here) to keep on selling the same good stuff,” said Ed Garber, a dealer for For-Most Livestock Equipment, which manufactures chutes, scales and other livestock corralling products.
One larger change at the Virginia Farm Show is the amount of space devoted to grain handling equipment, said Bob Threewitts, a Rockingham County farmer and a dealer for Agri-King feed and nutrition products.
“Like all industries, (agriculture) evolves,” said Threewitts, pointing out that strong prices for corn and soybeans have prompted Shenandoah Valley farmers to devote significantly more acreage to those crops than in the recent past.
One of the grain equipment vendors with a large presence at the show was LnR Feed and Grain Handling Systems from Greencastle, Pa., which sells “anything that has to do with handling grain,” according to Ed Martin, who represented the company at its booth.
Martin said the company has been expanding its presence in Virginia recently, and that he’s seen the most interest in grain storage equipment from farmers in the Shenandoah Valley.