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Published November 25, 2013, 10:34 AM

'More attention' for Northern Ag Expo

The popular show returns to Fargo with a wide range of sessions and exhibits.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

The 43rd annual Northern Ag Expo returns in December, focusing on everything from bees to the future of fertilizer.

“I don’t want to say the show is getting better, because it’s always been good. But it’s getting more attention. We’re definitely getting more producers and retailers (in attendance),” says Troy Bassingthwaite, president of the North Dakota Agricultural Association, which is organizing the event.

This year’s Ag Expo will be held Dec. 3 and 4 at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D. The doors open at 8:30 a.m. both days. Admission is free, though the Fargodome charges a parking fee.

The event attracts farmers and exhibitors from across the Upper Midwest and even into Canada and the Corn Belt, Bassingthwaite says.

He doesn’t want to estimate potential attendance this year. But he says the event has drawn record crowds in each of the past few years and that another record could be set.

More than 200 ag exhibitors are expected to attend

The Ag Expo tries to help producers make plans for the 2014 growing season, particularly with decisions involving seed, fertilizer and equipment.

Both the exhibits and the educational sessions are useful and informative, says Dave Franzen, North Dakota State University Extension Service soil specialist. He’s spoken at every Ag Expo since 1994.

Here’s a look at the educational sessions:

Dec. 3 sessions

10 to 10:50 a.m. — Three concurrent sessions are planned: Rich Zollinger, NDSU weed specialist, will speak on dynamic pest control technology. Tom Blue, with Blue Associates, will talk about the status of two proposed North Dakota fertilizer plants and overall industry expansion. NDSU Extension Service and tile drainage industry officials will speak on considerations, costs and consequences of tiling.

Interest in the future of fertilizer is strong and Blue’s presentation should draw considerable attention, Franzen says.

11 a.m. to noon — Three concurrent sessions are scheduled: Extension and private company officials will speak on input management involving recent precision ag management introductions. Jim Gray, with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, will talk about bee population concerns. Extension service and North Dakota Corn Council officials will speak on dealing with soybean cyst nematodes and nematodes in corn.

The session on bee population is timely, Bassingthwaite says,

“This topic is getting quite a lot of national press. This will hopefully clear up on a lot of what’s going on and why,” he says.

12:10 to 1 p.m. — John McGillicuddy, a veteran corn agronomist based in Iowa, will speak on “top-end corn production strategies.”

1:10 to 2 p.m. — Franzen will give a preview of his 2014 corn nitrogen recommendations utilizing precision tools.

2:10 to 3 p.m. — Three concurrent sessions are planned: Extension service and private industry officials will speak on data management in recent precision ag introductions. Extension service and private industry officials will speak on why wheat acreage could increase. Two private company officials will provide a “crystal ball viewing” on new seed traits.

In the past, the Ag Expo has focused heavily on corn and soybeans. The session on wheat recognizes that the crop remains important in the region, Bassingthwaite says.

Dec. 4 sessions

10 to 10:50 a.m. — Two concurrent sessions are planned: Officials from the private sector and extension service will speak on yield loss concerns in soybean cyst nematode. Private sector and extension service officials will talk on 2014 crop marketing.

11 to 11:50 a.m. — Private sector and extension service officials will speak on new apps for herbicide resistant weeds.

12:10 to 1 p.m. — Saul Phillips, NDSU men’s basketball coach, and Bucky Maughan, former NDSU wrestling coach, will speak.

1:10 to 2 p.m. — Extension service and private sector experts will speak on managing soil salinity.

Pesticide recertification, which in the past was held on the event’s first day, will be held on the second day this year.

Many Ag Expo exhibitors participate in recertification. Holding it on the second day should make those exhibitors mentally fresher and more relaxed on the first day, when they’re on the trade show floor working with attendees, Bassingthwaite says.