Chatting with Farm Science Review field demo namesake Jim Trotter

Jim Trotter ran the field demonstrations at Ohio State University's Farm Science Review for several decades before retiring in 2019. He still enjoys visiting the show, albeit for a more leisurely experience. (Submitted photo)

LONDON, Ohio — The namesake for the Trotter Field Demonstrations returned to Farm Science Review this year to take in the show. Even after 40 years of watching the latest and greatest in equipment and technology, it’s still possible to impress Jim Trotter.

“I saw something bigger than I’d ever seen before,” he said. “That was a Fendt combine with a 62-foot header on it cutting soybeans.”

Trotter and his wife, Norma, visited the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ annual showcase for a short time this year. Instead of spending weeks of preparation and days out in the sun making sure demonstrations ran smoothly, they visited on the first day and soaked in the scene at a more leisurely pace. The couple earned it after running the Farm Science Review field demonstrations for several decades.

Jim Trotter started out helping with the field demonstrations in 1979 when the annual event was still on the main Ohio State University campus in Columbus, he said. He took over the responsibility for all the field demonstrations in 1984, just a year after the review moved to its current location in London, Ohio, just southwest of the city. 

Norma has been with him working at the Farm Science Review “since day one,” he said. The couple worked as a team. “She was a big help as a secretary and communicator for me so I didn’t have to do those things,” he said.

He and Norma continued to work there on a volunteer basis even after they both retired from Ohio State University in 2001. 

“It was an aspect of my job I thoroughly enjoyed and saw no reason why I couldn’t continue doing that,” he said.

Jim started his career at Ohio State working at the research station in Wood County.

“I spent 15 years of my life up there, loving the flat ground and raising weird things like sunflowers and sugar beets as well as corn and soybeans,” he said. Trotter grew up in the rolling Appalachian foothills of Columbiana County, so farming in northwestern Ohio was a nice change of pace.

Later on, he worked out of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wayne County, managing farming operations, grounds maintenance and the feed mill there, as well as managing the outlying research stations. Norma also worked at the research center.

The Trotters, who were inducted into the Farm Science Review Hall of Fame in 2001, finally retired from the working show in 2019.

This year, the Trotter Field Demonstrations included the usual tillage, planters, strip-till, nutrient application, harvesting, baling, wrapping and field tile installation demonstrations. But there were also signs of the times, with demonstrations of a self-driving autonomous tractor, drone spraying and robotic irrigation systems.

2023 Farm Science Review attendance

Sept. 19 — 35,902

Sept. 20 — 59,641

Sept. 21 — 21,243

(Source: OSU CFAES)

Trotter was impressed by the massive Fendt header and other innovative machines, but he also came to catch up with old acquaintances and friends he’d made over the years of working at the show. 

“There were a lot of people that you get acquainted with and they become personal friends,” he said.

At 81, the Trotters keep busy in retirement by mowing the lawn, taking care of the house and raising berries on their acre and three-quarters in in Wayne County.

Trotter said he love to eat berries so to ensure a high-quality and consistent supply, they grow their own. Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries — everything but blueberries.

“Blueberries were too challenging so I decided someone else could grow them,” he said. “I’m in charge of production and my wife is in charge of marketing. We don’t sell them. We just give them away to friends and family and whoever we can push them off on.”

He and Norma also have a pair of jet skis that they ride occasionally, although “not as much as we used to or want to,” he said.

(Editor Rachel Wagoner can be reached at or 724-201-1544.)


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Rachel is Farm and Dairy's editor and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County, where she co-manages the family farm raising beef cattle and sheep with her husband and in-laws. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts. She can be reached at or 724-201-1544.



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