The countdown begins

Western Farm ShowMike Spidle, right, MFA strategic feed specialist, greets guests at the main entrance to the Western Farm Show at the American Royal Complex in Kansas City, Mo. The show returns for its 59th year Feb. 21-23. MFA will once again be a premier sponsor of the event and host several exhibits.Now entering its 59th season, the Western Farm Show begins Friday, Feb. 21, at the American Royal Com­plex in Kansas City, Mo., and ends on Sunday, Feb. 23. MFA Incorporated serves as a primary sponsor for this event.

“Preparations are underway for another great show with at­tractions for the whole family,” said Ken Dean, Western Farm Show manager. “We’re proud that the Western Farm Show ranks among the top indoor farm shows in the Midwest. We’re not just another big show but really an ag event.”

The show kicks off with the annual FFA day, when stu­dents from across Missouri and Kansas compete in a border war food drive. This longstanding tradition will take on a new format this year. Instead of a single chapter receiving a $500 prize for the highest number of nonperishable food items, all participat­ing chapters that collect at least 200 items will be entered into a drawing for $1,000 to be used for ag educational activities. One win­ning chapter will be drawn from both Missouri and Kansas.

“We’re very excited to introduce this new format, which gives every qualified chapter a chance to win,” said Dean. “We think this will make the food drive more fun and competitive, as well as expand chapter participation and increase food collections to help combat food insecurity in our region.”

On Saturday, Feb. 22, the Stockmanship and Steward­ship Low-Stress Livestock Handling Demonstration will be held at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is the 10th year of the event, which is sponsored by MFA Incorporated and free to Western Farm Show paid attendees. Demonstrations are led by Ron Gill, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension special­ist, who has been providing technical expertise to livestock producers in beef cattle nutrition, management and live­stock-handling techniques for more than 23 years.

“We’ve had ranchers see Dr. Gill’s demonstration and come back to the show the following year and tell us how they were able to apply the techniques and see the benefits on their own operation,” Dean said.

Throughout the weekend, attendees are invited to browse the 400,000-square-foot complex, where exhibitors display their latest and greatest equipment and technologies along with wide-ranging displays of other agricultural products and services. Look for MFA exhibits featuring precision agronomy, seed, feed and livestock equipment.

For attendees who need to take a break from the trade show, the Family Living Center on the upper level of the American Royal offers clothing, crafts, food, and health and home décor products.

Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21-22, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23. Adult tickets are $10 daily. Children ages 12 and under are free. A $3 off coupon is available by filling out a survey on the show’s website or visiting a participat­ing member of the Western Equipment Dealers Association, which produces the show.

For more information, visit www.westernfarmshow.com.

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First bee-applied pesticide approved in the U.S.

On Aug. 28, the EPA approved the first bee-distributed organic pesticide for the U.S. market—a powder branded as “Vectorite” that contains the spores of a naturally occurring fungus called CR-7. The compound is complete­ly harmless to its host plant but acts as a hostile competitor to other fungi. It has been approved for commercial growers of flowering crops such as blueberries, strawberries, almonds and tomatoes.

A Canadian company, Bee Vectoring Technolo­gies, devised the system, which involves placing small trays of CR-7 inside bee hives. The bees walk over the trays while in the hive, and the CR-7 attaches to their bodies. When they fly out to pollinate plants, the bees leave traces of the fungal compound everywhere they go. Both bum­blebees and honeybees are capable of spreading Vectorite up to 400 yards from their hive.

Once it’s delivered by the bees, CR-7 quickly embeds itself within the plant, establishing a natural defense system against common diseases such as gray mold, white mold, early potato blight, black rot on citrus and other fungus-based crop problems.

EPA’s published statement on the approval says there is no evidence that CR-7 is unsafe to either humans or the environment and also cre­ates a tolerance exemption, which means there is no requirement to test crops for CR-7 residue on food.

The bee-delivered pesticide is already being marketed for U.S. strawberry and blueberry crops grown in the fall and winter, and the technology is being tested on sunflower crops in the Dakotas.

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New 'PED Talks' series digs into soil health

The importance of soil health is being highlighted in a new series of 10-to-15-minute, science-centered “PED Talks” on YouTube designed to engage and educate a wide range of audiences on the topic.

Inspired by similarly named “TED Talks,” the soil health series addresses progress that’s being made to ensure the healthy soils necessary to feed, clothe and fuel the world in the future. Soil peds, by the way, are aggregated particles of sand, silt, clay and organic matter.

Five inaugural PED Talks are now available, including a video introduction from USDA Natural Resources Conser­vation Service Chief Matt Lohr and presentations by experts from other partnering organizations.

“People say that clean water is the key to life on the planet, but the very same thing can be said about healthy soil—it is literally the foundation to productive agriculture, balanced wildlife habitats and an overall healthy environment,” Lohr said. “These PED Talks are not only useful for our nation’s ag­ricultural producers, but also for our educators, policy makers and the general public. We all benefit from good soil health.”

The PED Talks series was created by NRCS along with the Conservation Technology Information Center, Soil Health Institute, Soil Health Partnership, Soil Science Society of America and Soil and Water Conservation Society. The part­ners plan to record additional presentations and release them on the PED Talks YouTube channel, with a focus on the next generation of scientists and farmers.

View the PED Talks at http://bit.ly/PEDtalks.

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