The alfalfa made it through with little or no winterkill, the new manure lagoon is finished and operating, Tent City will be laid out this week and in a week or two exhibitors will begin arriving at Breezy Hill Dairy to begin putting together their exhibits for this year’s Farm Technology Days show July 9,10 and 11 in Barron County. That is part of the story revealed to members of the farm media from all over Wisconsin and parts of Minnesota who showed up for the annual Media Day that precedes every show.
Alex Olson, who along with his wife Mary, operate Breezy Hill Dairy, told us “there should be about 200 acres of alfalfa for field demonstrations at this year’s show.” That’s because his stands came through the winter almost unscathed as he said, ”we had just some minor winterkill in some low areas but nothing bad enough to cause us to terminate any stands, so I was real pleased.”
Forages, Olson, said are the backbone of his dairy ration as he has a tight rotation of three years of alfalfa and two years of corn. At last week’s media day Olson said he hopes to harvest his first crop this week if the weather cooperates by drying up and warming up so he can store it in his drive over pile system he uses on his farm. That 80 acre field last week was about 18 inches tall with lots of vegetation but very few buds yet to appear.
Currently Olson feeds a forage based ration of 55% corn silage and 45% haylage to his 500 milk cows. He has been working the last few year’s on enhancing his forage quality and feeding more of it to the cows since “grain prices went so high a few years ago,” he said. His dairy ration is now running between 70 to 75 % forages. He also raises replacement heifers on an adjoining farm to the tent city site with 420 head now at that site.
Since the Farm Technology Board decided to move to all summer shows to highlight forages, the second and third weeks of July have been the target dates. One of the reason the schedule change was made was because the major equipment manufacturers resisted Coming to Wisconsin for a fall show since they don’t feel Wisconsin is a major player in the grain industry like some of our neighbors in the Corn Belt. But forages are another story. According to Field Demonstrations co-chairs, Mark Schofield, who works at the local coop and works with the Olsons on a regular basis and Keith Kolpack, agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Barron High School who had Alex in class in the late ‘70s, all types of forage equipment will be on hand for this show. Kolpack told us the field demonstration schedule will be the same all three days of the show, “weather permitting.” That means field activities from 10 to noon and from one three each day. Those activities, according to Kolpack include, “mowing, chopping, raking, merging, baling as well as some other opportunities like an expanded ride and drive in tractors equipped with GPS, hop on board field sprayers with new technology like automatic boom shut-offs to individual nozzles, and bale processing machines doing everything right there in the field.” They said there will be a full line-up of forage equipment on hand with about seven or eight mowers, four rakes, at least four forage harvesters, three bale processors, four tractors with GPS guidance systems and a variety of forage boxes and wagons.
While the field demonstrations are ready to go, so is the rest of the show according to Tim Jergenson, Barron County Agricultural Agent and Executive Secretary of this year’s show. Wisconsin’s Farm Technology Days is the largest volunteer run outdoor farm show in the country and this year is no exception. Jorgenson told us the county has really turned out the help as “right now we have 1,250 volunteers signed up to help in some way at the show, and we’re still adding more.” He was proud to add that volunteers have stepped forward to help “from all parts of the county.” Jergenson also pointed out that the county and surrounding area has also stepped forward with the funds needed to operate such a show. He told us, “so we’ve been able to raise $200,000 cash but we need it to pay some of the early expenses to put on this show.”
Jergenson also added that a lot of the people that worked on the 1987 Farm Progress Show that was also in Barron County have stepped forward and while some can’t physically help this time, “the community that is Barron County is supporting this show 100% in whatever way they can.” This year’s theme is Agribusiness..Cultivating Our Future, something Jergenson says is bright in Barron County.