PORTAGEVILLE -- In an effort to reduce costs, farmers, like several others, are searching for ways to decrease their energy use.
The University of Missouri Delta Center has listened, and is making that a theme -- and a new tour stop -- for this year's 47th Annual Field Day, set for Sept. 2.
"With the cost of diesel and everything, the inputs are getting so expensive. We thought we better talk about that and ways to save anything we can," said Jake Fisher, superintendent of the Delta Center.
"It's basically kind of an awareness that energy costs are really more important than ever in a farmer's budget," said Joe Hennggeler. He is an MU Extension irrigation specialist at the Delta Center, and will speak about ways to reduce irrigation costs from on-farm pumps.
Hennggeler said he and colleagues have heard those questions several times, so the addition of the energy and agriculture tour to this year's field day, "Farming for the 21st Century," is a good fit. He expects even more people to turn out to the event, which last year drew about 1,500, in part because of the added topic area.
The theme is actually a continuation from last year's field day, noted Fisher. "Technology is changing so fast, and we're trying out a lot of new technologies here at the farm."
In fact, that's the whole reason for the annual field day. "We bring the latest research results and get them out to the public so they can use them," said Fisher. "Things change so fast that if you miss a couple of years, you are behind."
Stops on the energy and agriculture tour, one of four planned for the day, will include, in addition to Hennggeler's, ways to save water and fuel using a pivot system to irrigate rice and the potential of sweet sorghum as an ethanol crop.
Hennggeler offered more details about his presentation.
"I'm just going to go through a checklist of several things farmers should be looking at," he said.
The biggest thing, he said, is making sure farmers are using as low of pressure as possible. Hennggeler said he'll suggest several remedies farmers can use to lower the pounds per square inch on their pivot.
Figuring diesel prices at $4 a gallon and propane at $2 per gallon, a farmer can save about $150 per acre for each psi unit dropped, Hennggeler said.
"So let's say your pivot was normally running at 80 psi and you reduced it down to 40," he said. "You're savings a year would be about $4,000 per acre for diesel or propane and electricity would be about $1,600."
There are three other tours offered for the field day, each with three stops also. They are: cotton and corn; soybeans; and pest control. The tours run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and lunch will also be provided.
Topics on the cotton and corn tour will cover variable-rate nitrogen application in cotton using on-the-go sensors; variation in early vigor of cotton; and how to predict when fields are suitable for rain-fed corn production. Covered in the soybean tour will be conventional soybean breeding at the Delta Center and how non-Roundup Ready beans can increase profits; soybean rust in Missouri; and mid-season potash management. Finally, the pest control tour will feature topics on Dectes stem borer and other pests; pre-emergence soybean herbicides; and managing blackbird damage.
But it's not just learning those remedies that can be used. Since it's an election year, Hennggeler said several political candidates will be on hand to speak at the event and talk to those in attendance. "They kind of address their farming ideas, and it gives the farmer a chance to listen and talk to them," he said.
Hennggeler encouraged those involved in agriculture to show up.
"No. 1, you can meet some of the researchers," he said. While one's questions may not be answered completely during the tour stops, it gives farmers and others a contact they can talk to in more detail later.
"We really encourage them to come up and introduce themselves," continued Hennggeler, adding that research is often determined by those conversations where presenters learn of farmers' needs.
"And a lot of field day is people visiting with their neighbors and that type of thing," he said. "It gives them a chance to get out there and kind of compare notes."
For more information on the field day, contact the MU Delta Center at 573-379-5431.