Farm Science Review adapts to farm trends

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LONDON, Ohio – The face of Ohio agriculture is changing and the Farm Science Review is changing with it.

The Review changes are subtle, but visitors to this year’s event, Sept. 16-18, will see much more than conventional production agriculture products.

“Agriculture itself is so diverse,” said Craig Fendrick, the Review’s general manager. “If you’re going to represent agriculture, then you should do it the best you can.”

The three-day agricultural showcase, which is sponsored by Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is staged at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center on state Route 40 north of London, Ohio.

Diversification. Fendrick said the Review is evolving into an event for all farmers, large and small.

The last 10 years have lured more alternative agriculture exhibitors to the Review, but Fendrick is also seeing subtle changes in the major equipment manufacturers as well.

The big equipment makers will now bring lawn and garden products, or tractors under 40 hp. Twenty years ago, that would have been unheard of, Fendrick said.

More than corn and beans. “The Review, for years, was a corn and soybean show,” Fendrick said, “and it didn’t necessarily even represent the diversity of our own college.”

The shift of visitors’ – and exhibitors’ – interests sparked the trend.

“A lot of niche things have come into being, making it a more well-rounded event,” Fendrick said.

Sold out! If you go to the Review, get ready to walk, but you’ll be rewarded with a completely sold-out exhibit area.

Fendrick said the Review’s 83 acres of exhibit space filled up in early August, the earliest ever for a Review.

As of Sept. 4, the Review had 587 commercial exhibitors lined up, representing more than 4,000 product lines.

“They’re in the front yard, back yard, side yard,” Fendrick said. “Anything that could be used as exhibit space is being used.”

Center for Small Farms. This year’s Review boasts a new Center for Small Farms building to accommodate a growing number of exhibits and seminars – seminars that Fendrick says were among the best attended at last year’s Review.

Designed to spotlight products for smaller operations – products that previously wouldn’t have been exhibited at the Review – the Center for Small Farms has grown steadily in three years.

“I never realized there was that much interest,” Fendrick admitted.

Review seminars at the Center for Small Farms range from pastured poultry with Herman Beck Chenowith to growing produce in hoop houses.

Field demonstrations. The Review, however, isn’t about to abandon conventional, row crop agriculture.

Machinery and inputs for traditional farmers is still the mainstay of most exhibits and a full lineup of field demonstrations completes the three-day Review.

Corn and soybean harvest field demonstrations are scheduled all three days, although check a schedule when you get on the grounds because field conditions may shorten demonstrations, Fendrick said.

Like most Ohio farms, the Review has been swamped with rain this summer: 9 inches above normal rainfall, Fendrick said. That may mean coordinators will have to cut back on the corn harvest demonstrations, which will also affect tillage demonstrations.

Manure application field demonstrations are new at the Review. More than half a dozen exhibitors will demonstrate injectors and related equipment daily at 2 p.m.

More conservation exhibits. Because of increasing interest in natural resources, the Review expanded its educational exhibit area at the Gwynne Conservation Area this year to include commercial exhibitors for the first time.

Fendrick said the addition of commercial exhibitors to the Gwynne just makes sense. Previously, exhibitors of natural resources or conservation-related products were scattered throughout the exhibit area and visitors had a hard time tracking them down.

Central to the Gwynne is a log cabin interpretive center completed in 2000. The area also includes a constructed wetland, prairie planting and native grass stands, two ponds, examples of streambank stabilization options, and reforestation projects.

To get to the Gwynne, catch a shuttle wagon at the west end of Friday Avenue.

Plowing contest. In a tribute to Ohio’s bicentennial, the Review will host a horse plowing contest Sept. 17, coordinated by the Ohio Horse & Mule Group.

Nearly 30 entries are registered to participate in four categories, including sulky plows and walk-behind plows.

The contest will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday in the field demonstration area.

History. The first Farm Science Review was Sept. 25-27, 1963, at Ohio State’s Don Scott Field. The three-day event moved to the 2,100-acre Molly Caren Agricultural Center near London in 1983.

Visitors to the Review illustrate the changing face of agriculture, Fendrick said. Twenty years ago, more than 90 percent of the visitors were full-time farmers. Last year, less than 85 percent of Review attendees were full-time farmers.

Fendrick also said people are driving farther to come to the Review. Twenty years ago, 50 percent of those attending came from within a 75-mile radius. Last year, that zoomed out to about a 175-mile radius.

You’ll also find more women and families at the Review.

Exhibitors are matching the trend, Fendrick said. “Exhibitors have changed their attitudes and their displays,” he explained, as they offer more things to entertain or to interest spouses.

Ohio State is also offering nonfarm educational sessions, including home garden and landscaping programs at the Utzinger Memorial Gardens and health and lifestyle programs at the McCormick Building.

Last year’s Review drew more than 146,000 visitors.

If you go. Tickets to this year’s Review are $8 at the gate, an increase of $2 from last year, so it’s worth tracking down advance tickets, which are $5 when purchased from OSU Extension county offices or agribusinesses. Children 5 and younger are admitted free.

Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 16-17 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 18.

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