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New Friends, New Technologies, New Products: Just another day at Beltwide

January 7, 2010

Today, I had the opportunity to walk around the trade show and poster displays. While this IS my first cotton conference this ISN’T my first trade show. How much different could this one be from all the others I have attended?

Very different, which I realized as soon as I met Eddie and Charlie; never have I talked with two folks with such a good sense of humor and such great personalities as these representatives from SFP. Eddie Walley and Charlie Carter immediately took me up on my request to talk about their company. Through talking and joking with them, I learned that SFP sells fertilizer enhancement products that help put “more green in the field for more green in your pocket.” I also learned that SFP was named in the 100 Fastest Growing Manufacturing Companies of the Year by Inc. magazine.

Charlie Carter and Eddie Walley

Charlie and Eddie, the comedians from SFP

I also had the pleasure of talking with Jesse Duce of Syngenta. Actually, I had the pleasure of playing Wack-A-Weed with Jesse. Wack-A-Weed, an interactive game created by Martin Williams Advertising Inc., is similar to Wack-A-Mole except the player is trying to destroy weeds that come up amidst the cotton. The technology is a type of augmented reality, merging computer images (the weeds) with reality (the playing surface).  It was much more difficult than it looked; it took me several tries before I scored enough points to win a pair of work gloves.


Jesse Duce: Weed Whacker Extraordinaire

After and invigorating game of Wack-A-Weed, I ventured over to Farm Press to visit with Glenn, Dennis, and Mike. Growing up on a farm, I knew that Farm Press existed; I just didn’t know what it was all about. Dennis explained to me that Farm Press’s goal was to provide “Timely, Reliable Information.” Farm Press has several region specific publications that provide great articles on crops as well as invaluable information on the market, the legislature, equipment and so much more.

Glenn, Dennis and Mike

From left to right: Glenn Luedke, Director of Advertising, Delta Farm Press; Dennis Miner, General Manager; Mike Lafferre, Director of Advertising, Western Farm Press

After my chat with the gentlemen from Farm Press, I ventured over to Bayer Crop Science to virtually kill nematodes…literally. Dr. Jennifer Riggs demonstrated the virtual kill that occurred on an interactive mat on the floor. Colorful cartoonish nematodes were projected onto a mat. As an individual walked over them, casting a shadow, the nematodes disappeared or were “killed.” Children and adults had a great time making the nematodes disappear while learning about the damage they can have on cotton crops.

Dr. Jennifer Riggs

Dr. Jennifer Riggs exterminates nematodes

After exterminating a few disaster causing nematodes, I talked with a man who deals with disasters of a slightly different kind. Steve Carthel of Rain and Hail Insurance Service shared with me the history of his company. Created in 1919, the company was one of the nation’s first risk management pools; today Rain and Hail underwrites a large majority of crop insurance agreements. Their longevity in the industry certainly says something about their business and their ethics.

Steve Carthel

Steve Carthel of Rain and Hail Insurance Service

Another intriguing person I was privileged to meet was Director Nathan Crisp of Louisiana Agricultural Statistics. He informed me that the National Agricultural Statistics Service, or NASS, gathers information on all things related to agriculture. NASS is responsible for conducting the Census of Agriculture and provides invaluable information to the public.

Nathan Crisp, Louisiana Agricultural Statistics

Nathan Crisp, Louisiana Agricultural Statistics

After leaving the NASS exhibit and picking up a few great license plates from the Cotton Inc. booth, I found myself talking to Beck Barnes and Ryan Bockmuller from Cotton Grower Magazine. Not coming from a cotton background, I had not been introduced to this amazing magazine. Call me foolish, but I’m going to have to sit down and finish reading this magazine tonight before bed! Full of great stories about producers, new cotton varieties and up-and-coming technologies, Cotton Grower is a must-read for all producers.

Beck Barnes, Editor of Cotton Grower Magazine

Beck Barnes, Editor of Cotton Grower Magazine

The next booth I stopped to visit after leaving Beck and Ryan truly caught my attention with color. As I walked by I noticed bright, neon colored seed sitting on the table. Dave Barnes of AgTechnix, pointed out with a flashlight seeds marked with Tracer in the batch. Selecting a seed, Dave magnified it using an instrument that projected the seed on his computer. I was amazed to see that on seeds slightly bigger than turnip seeds (I’m not actually sure what kind of seeds they were) were numbers with tracking information. Dave explained that the Tracers in the coating and numbers on the seed allowed any batch of seed to be directly linked to a specific production site or company. This, I later came to discover, can provide not only traceability while the seed is still in the bag, but even after it has been placed in the soil.

Dave Barnes of AgTechnix

Dave Barnes of AgTechnix

While I was still trying to overcome my amazement at AgTechnix’s amazing seed coating technology, I ventured over to the Deltapine booth. I found the crew engaging customers in conversations about the Class of 10 varieties, the cotton industry and the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. I also found a plot of cotton growing where I could compare for myself the differences between brands. After visiting with the people at Deltapine and snagging a snazzy new t-shirt, I headed over to the poster sections.

Katie Vaught, Ty Vaughn and Christine Hull of Deltapine

Katie Vaught, Ty Vaughn and Christine Hull of Deltapine

For those not familiar with trade shows, the poster sections features research information from a variety of colleges and agencies. I was proud to see several research posters from my favorite college in the South, Auburn University. I was even more excited to see a familiar name, Brandon Dillard, as one of the researchers I know personally.

With over 140 posters, representing research in many areas such as Cotton Agronomy and Physiology and Cotton Weed Science Research, it is evident that there are many great improvements on the way for cotton.

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