An education in farming

Published 12:13 am Thursday, August 4, 2011

Participants at the Blacklands Farm Tour listen as Alan Meijer, a tillage specialist with N.C. State University, describes how various types of tillage affect rooting in corn. (Submitted Photo)

COLUMBIA — Area farmers and residents came to learn and enjoy the 41st-annual Blacklands Farm Managers 2011 Farm Tour at Green Valley Farms near Columbia on Wednesday.

The agenda for the tour included six speakers who were scheduled to give talks on various topics related to farming. Carl Crozier was at the top of the program with a presentation titled “N Management for High Density/Narrow Row Corn.” Frank Winslow and Mac Gibbs were slated to end the program with a presentation titled “100 Bushel Soybeans — Is It Possible or Profitable?”

Winslow is the Cooperative Extension Service director in Tyrrell County. He helped organize and coordinate the event. He provided background about the tour and its history.

“What we do is we rotate between Tyrrell, Hyde, Beaufort and Washington counties. Once every four years, it will be in one of those counties,” Winslow said. “Last year, the tour was held at the Vernon James Research Center in Plymouth. The extension agent for the county acts as kind of the lead agent for the tour. This year the tour is in Tyrrell County, so I am kind of like the lead person on the tour. Next year, it will be in Beaufort County, and Gaylon Ambrose will be the lead person for the touring.”

Winslow also discussed what he hoped farmers would take away from the tour.

“We hope they learn the importance of managing their crop as a system. You’ve got to look at the fertility part of it, the weed management, the health management as far as if you need fungicides or that type of thing. Nitrogen efficiency is also one of the topics,” he said.

N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler was scheduled to speak at the tour at 8:30 a.m.

Andrea Ashby, a spokeswoman with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, released a statement from Troxler prior to the tour.

A portion of his remarks taken from that statement reads: “I look forward to my visit with farm managers and agricultural leaders in the blacklands area. The contributions of farms in this area are significant to our state’s nearly $70 billion agricultural economy. This tour will showcase some of the agricultural research being conducted in this unique part of the state, and it will also give me an opportunity to check in with farmers on current crop conditions. Many farmers across the eastern part of our state are feeling the effects of the extremely hot and dry summer, and we continue to monitor this situation closely.”

Troxler said he has attended the annual tour before.

“This is my second visit to the blacklands area in the past two months. In June, I was proud to show off this area to my counterparts from other Southern states as part of the annual meeting of the Southern Association of State Departments of Agriculture,” he said. “It was a good tour, and other agriculture commissioners and secretaries were impressed with the farming operations they saw.”

Winslow said the majority of tour participants would be farmers in production agriculture.

An estimated 220 to 230 people have attended each of the tour’s sponsored lunches over the years, Winslow said, adding that attendance at the luncheon is the best measurement of how many people participated in the tour each year because not all participants register for the tour.