LONDON, Ohio – Like many grain producers, Jim Trotter feels the pressure of weather uncertainties and crop development. But unlike other farmers, Trotter’s fields get scrutinized by more than 130,000 people each September, so the pressure’s really on.
Trotter, who recently retired from the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, coordinates the field demonstrations at the annual Farm Science Review near London, Ohio.
At last week’s Review, Trotter and his wife, Norma, were inducted into the Farm Science Review’s Hall of Fame for their work in managing the field demonstrations. Norma, who also recently retired from the research center, has taken vacation days to help her husband at the Review for more than 15 years.
Behind the scenes. The Trotters’ efforts go largely unnoticed by the majority of Farm Science Review visitors because the field demonstration coordination takes place behind the scenes.
The Trotters, who live in Smithville, may be retired from their full-time jobs, but they have no intention of retiring their Review responsibilities.
Jim Trotter, who worked in field operations at the Wooster branch and outlying research sites, started helping at the Review in 1978 and has chaired the Review’s field demonstration committee since 1983. Of the Molly Caren Agricultural Center’s 2,100 acres, approximately 350 acres are involved in the field demonstration sites.
Juggling act. The Columbiana County native juggles demonstration schedules, what manufacturer is demonstrating where, who goes first and how to keep the action going. Corn demonstrations are scheduled in the morning so there is a place for tillage demonstrations in the afternoon.
Early Review tillage demonstrations included as many as 58 pieces of equipment, compared to this year’s 20 pieces. Overall, in 2001, there were 40 pieces of equipment running in the field over the course of the three-day Review.
Eye on the sky. Some years, weather and crop maturity don’t cooperate and the demonstrations are canceled, or only tillage demonstrations are conducted.
“We do our darnedest and are probably out in the fields when a farmer wouldn’t be, if the equipment dealers are willing,” Trotter said in a 1998 interview. In a way, though, producers appreciate seeing how the equipment works in less-than-ideal conditions.
The couple works as a team, and Norma can make the decisions as easily as Jim can. In fact, she laughs, the cell phone numbers the Review assigns to the couple carry her name instead of Jim’s.
Pour on power. People who watch the field demonstrations want to see power, Norma Trotter says. Big power. When the track tractors and combines came out several years ago, Jim Trotter said the Review visitors headed out to the fields “like flies to sugar.”
And even with the potentially dangerous combination of lots of equipment and lots of spectators, Trotter said there have been no field accidents during their tenure.
In addition to receiving the high honor of induction into the Review Hall of Fame, the Trotters’ efforts will be forever remembered, because this year the field demonstration area was renamed Trotter Field.
(Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 1-800-837-3419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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