Thousands braced the rain at the 2012 World Ag Expo in Tulare today. Expo officials expect the event to attract nearly 100,000 people by the close of the event on Thursday. The grounds contain over 1,400 exhibitors including experts in citrus, dairy, livestock and more.
“For a lot of the general public they don’t drive around the country and see what farmers do. They will be surprised to see what is available for farmers and the technology that’s available is unbelievable. The tractors—some of them can drive themselves with the GPS systems they have,” said Patty Colson, the chairman of the event.
Household names like John Deere and Caterpillar dominate the show grounds, but smaller vendors at the expo say that advancements in technology are helping them become the new face of the agriculture industry.
Scott Korthuis, a product manager with the company Oxbo says that technology has propelled companies like his into a new era. His firm has developed a machine that efficiently picks raspberries without damaging the fragile fruit. It helps farmers become more efficient despite the downturn in the economy.
“This machine could probably replace two to three hundred people out in the field so when you compare that to what this is doing to your capital costs compared to the labor cost you can pay it off in a year or two.”
Other exhibitors at the show also offered equipment to help farmers save money. Ben Kern, is the western regional director for Dee-Laval, a company that created the first automated milking system for dairies.
“Helping dairy farmers achieve a level of sustainably that allows them to stay in business has been a focus and one of the ways that we have chosen to do that is with technology. We have developed a robotic milking system for rotary parlors that we call our AMR automatic milking rotary that actually allows us to reduce the manual labor in milking the cow.”
Attendees like Bruce Butterfield said they were impressed by the sheer size of the equipment and the technological advances in the agriculture industry.
“Well the entertainment—that is actually seeing the technological advancements that has gone into the industry in general and it’s enlightening for my little mind to see progress and stuff that mankind has actually made.”
The annual event also attracts several thousand international visitors, which boosts the local economy and spreads the Valley's farming practices worldwide.