LONDON, Ohio - AgrAbility bus service and the newest trends in growing crops for biofuel production are two of many agriculture-related topics scheduled for this year's Farm Science Review Sept. 20-22.
Sponsored by Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, OSU Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, FSR is expected to attract 140,000 visitors from all over the country and Canada to Molly Caren Agricultural Center.
In addition to educational programs, visitors can see more than 4,000 product lines from 600 commercial exhibitors and learn the latest in agricultural research, conservation, family and nutrition, and gardening and landscape topics.
Extension experts will help producers evaluate biofuel cropping options best suited for Ohio's climate and soil types.
"The sweet sorghum is really interesting," said Harold Watters, OSU Extension educator and coordinator of the agronomic crops team. "It's an annual crop and we can plant it with our current equipment, but we'll harvest it a little differently. You'll harvest the whole plant and take it to an ethanol production facility."
He said the crop has great promise in Ohio, although he does not anticipate it replacing corn as the main feedstock for the state's ethanol plants.
"For us to participate we will need a crop that can be incorporated into our current systems," he said. "That's why I think that something like sweet sorghum that can be grown in a corn-soybean rotation in place of some of our corn. It's an annual crop so we can opt in and out as acres are needed.
Similarly, Watters said farmers could potentially harvest more of the plant material for biofuels production than just the grain or oilseed itself.
"Corn stalks and stover can go into cellulosic facilities," he said. "My concerns are that we remove too much plant material from the fields in those systems."
In addition to corn for ethanol and soybeans for biodiesel, plots will feature biofuels-production applications for wheat, sunflowers, switchgrass, sorghum and even trees.
Members of the Agronomic Crops Team will be on hand in the plots between the parking lot and Gate C all three days to discuss these and other production-related issues with farmers, outside the biofuels arena.
Watters said demonstrations focus on helping farmers do a better job producing corn and soybeans, as well as incorporating new crops geared toward biofuels production.
People with disabilities can travel to the field demonstrations this year for the first time on an AgrAbility bus noon to 4 p.m. daily.
The bus will pick up people at the main shuttle location near the administration headquarters building.
The new service is in addition to the usual tractor and wagon shuttle to be used by most people.
"This is a great opportunity for farmers faced with the challenges of a disability to get out to the field demonstrations and see new tillage and harvesting equipment, and take a look at new crop production techniques and strategies," said Kent McGuire, Ohio AgrAbility Program coordinator in the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering.
"The idea of the AgrAbility Bus came about because of suggestions from some of our Ohio AgrAbility clients in wheelchairs," McGuire said. "They wanted to go out to the field demonstrations, however needed an alternative means to get there. Farm Science Review staff mentioned that they had had a few requests as well. So we worked together to come up with a solution to meet the needs of those individuals and anyone else who wanted to enjoy the field demonstrations."
Pre-show tickets are on sale for $5 at the OSU Extension office and at local agribusinesses. Tickets are $8 at the gate. Children 5 and younger are admitted free.
Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 20-21 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 22.
For more information, visit the Farm Science Review online at fsr.osu.edu.