Event recap: Sunbelt Ag Expo 2021
That’s a wrap on another successful week for UF/IFAS at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.
The event draws thousands from the southeastern U.S. to check out more than 1,200 vendors, 600 acres of farmland used in research and 100 acres of exhibit space. Imagine county fair meets a massive agricultural trade show. Down one aisle of the event you pass tractors and harvesters as big as a house and the next, you can snuggle goats and sheep.
UF/IFAS is one of the 1,200 exhibitors, and our building boasts educational displays based on a yearly theme selected by UF/IFAS Extension agents. This year’s theme was grasses, with information and activities featuring seagrasses with Florida Sea Grant agents, grasses for food that showed how wheat goes from farm to flour, livestock forages with samples on display and lawn maintenance tips.
Visitors to the building can always count on a cold serving of orange juice and some Florida-grown peanuts to snack on as they make their way through the expo.
While there’s a lot to see in the UF/IFAS building, our presence at the event doesn’t stop there. Throughout the week, experts give talks, participate in expo events and more.
Chuck Cichra, professor in the School of Forest, Fisheries and Geomatics Sciences, presented on maintaining your pond for fishing. Crystal Hartman, Family Fishing Days coordinator, brought along some pond critters including tadpoles, dragonfly larva, crawdads and more, which were popular with adults and kids alike.
Right next door at the livestock pavilion, livestock agent Chris Prevatt presents a daily seminar on the beef cattle market and shares trends and what to plan for in the coming year. Increasing feed prices is key for producers to watch and factor into their financial planning for the year to come, he said.
Marcelo Wallau, assistant professor specializing in forages, chairs the Southeastern Hay Contest, where growers across the southeastern U.S. are invited to submit hay samples to compete for prizes in seven categories. One overall winner receives the grand prize. The 2021 winner was Florida’s very own Bill Conrad of Conrad Farms located in Jackson County, Florida. Participants work alongside their local extension agent to submit their hay samples, a unique aspect of the program that encourages a partnership with Extension. With almost 400 participants in this year’s contest, winning gives Florida and the Conrad family some strong bragging rights. Extension agents are also recognized, and Mark Mauldin of Washington County brought home the prize for facilitating the most entries into the contest out of all Florida Extension agents.
On Tuesday, visitors near the dairy barn likely heard the ruckus caused by the dairy milking contest. Three ag school deans participated, including Al Wysocki, UF/IFAS associate dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. While we may not have taken home the ‘W,’ fun was had by all.
Even though 2021’s event has ended, we are already planning for next year and can’t wait to see you there.