Plotting for pollinators

Paris FFA plants native habitat with help from MFA, MDC, Quail Forever

In December, students from the Paris High School FFA chapter took time from their indoor studies to sow seed over a half-acre plot on the school grounds. The seed will eventually grow into a plot of native, blooming plants designed to attract a variety of pollinator insect species.

ParisPollinatorsThe project is a joint effort among the FFA members, MFA, Missouri Department of Conservation and Quail Forever. Over the past year, MFA Precision Agronomy Manager Matt Hill has been working with the school’s ag teacher and FFA advisor, Josh Bondy, along with MDC Private Lands Conservationist James Ebbesmeyer and local Quail Forever Farm Bill Biologist Courtney Nicks to establish the pollinator plot in hope other schools will follow suit.

“MFA is an active member and funding partner on the Missourians for Monarchs Steering Committee, whose focus is to educate Missourians about monarch butterfly population declines, habitat needs and ways to help,” Hill said. “Schools, community groups, and nonprofits are great partners that typically have access to some acres that aren’t utilized to the full potential and are usually excited about new projects like this.”

Over 30 different varieties of native species were planted in the Paris plot. The students will be involved in its management, collecting data on different populations and participating in management practices like prescribed burnings and landscaping. Ebbesmeyer said that something should be blooming during the spring, summer and fall to attract a variety of insect species.

“We wanted to work with the younger students on this so they would be able to see the full cycle,” he said. “This year these plants will begin to grow, but the plot probably won’t fully flower until next year. By that time, it should be buzzing with activity out here.”

The goal of the project doesn’t only involve educational opportunities for students. Bondy says he hopes the community will use the land as well. A walking path is projected for the future, and signs will identify the native species.

“I’m curious to see what parts of the community find uses for it,” Bondy said. “My wife works as a photographer, and she was excited because it would be another place to take photos. That’s something I hadn’t thought about. I’m want to see other teachers bring their kids over to learn about the life cycles of these plants and insects.”

It’s important to find ways to get kids outside for any reason, Hill added. “But I hope introducing students to the benefits of native plants and diversity early on will result in appreciation later in life.”

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Western Farm Show

The Western Farm Show returns Feb. 22-24 to the American Royal complex in Kansas City, Mo. The 58th annual event boasts some 500 exhibitors and 400,000 square feet of exhibit space, featuring expansive displays of the newest technologies in equipment, farm structures, fertilizer, feed, seed, tools and much more.

For the past ­­five years, MFA Incorporated has sponsored the show, which typically draws thousands of attendees.MFA’s support of the Western Farm Show will once again be evident as soon as visitors enter the hall, where plenty of banners and signage will feature MFA products and programs.
The show kicks off on Friday, Feb. 22, with FFA Day. An expected 3,000 FFA students from Missouri and Kansas compete for bragging rights in the “Border War” food drive. Collections of non-perishable items are donated to Harvesters Community Food Network, a regional food bank serving a 26-county area of northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas. FFA Day is conducted each year in support of National FFA Week.
“In the past seven years, more than 31,000 pounds of food have been donated, enabling Harvesters to provide more than 25,000 meals,” said Ken Dean, Western Farm Show manager.

The Stockmanship and Stewardship Low-Stress Livestock Handling Demonstration, sponsored by MFA Incorporated, will be held at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, in the Scott Pavilion adjacent to the American Royal. The demonstrations are led by Dr. Ron Gill, Texas AgriLife Extension specialist, who has been providing technical expertise to livestock producers in beef cattle nutrition, management and livestock-handling techniques for more than 22 years.

MFA Incorporated will have four booths throughout the show demonstrating the latest in precision agriculture, farm supply and animal health and debuting products such as its new equine gastric health supplement, Easykeeper HDC.
(See story HERE)

As in previous years, the Health and Safety Roundup will again be coordinated by the Missouri Farm Bureau, offering blood pressure, hearing and vision screenings at no cost, as well as cholesterol screenings for a nominal fee. Highway safety will be presented by the Missouri and Kansas Highway Patrols, while other organizations will offer displays and demonstrations covering such topics as gun safety, crime prevention, hazardous materials and grain bin safety.

Attendees who need a break from the trade show floor can shop for clothing, crafts, and food, health and home décor products in the Family Living Center, a special area on the upper level of the American Royal.
Show hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24. 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 dealer member of the Western Equipment Dealers Association.

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Grass Class

Spring Forage Conference planned Feb. 26 in Springfield

Native warm-season grasses will be spotlighted at the 35th annual Southwest Missouri Spring Forage Conference on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the Oasis Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield, Mo.

The conference’s keynote speaker is Pat Keyser, professor and director of the University of Tennessee’s Center for Native Grasslands Management. His general session on native warm-season grasses will complement several breakout sessions throughout the day. Topics include strategies for managing farm and ranch depreciation; intercropping summer annuals; retained ownership; basics of intensive-grazing management; mitigation of fescue endophyte; proper stocking rates; fertilizing for crop removal rates; toxic plants; preparing for drought; economics of renovation; and forage sustainability with soil types.

A large trade show will also be held in conjunction with the conference. Agricultural businesses and organizations will have exhibits and representatives available to discuss their products and services.

Conference registration begins at 8 a.m., with sessions running from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Cost is $35 per person in advance or $45 at the door. A banquet luncheon is included. To register or get more information, contact the Laclede County SWCD office at 417-532-6305, extension 101. The conference hotel is located at 2546 N. Glenstone Ave. in Springfield.

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