COPY-Thousands expected at Sunbelt Ag Expo

COPY-Thousands expected at Sunbelt Ag Expo

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - It's Sunbelt Ag Expo time and the event will likely bring tens of thousands of people to south Georgia this week.

The 32nd annual show kicks off Tuesday at Spence Field in Moultrie. More than 1,200 exhibitors will be there, including 60 new vendors. About a dozen vendors told organizers budget cuts prevented them from signing up this year.

From the exhibit signs going up to the equipment being rolled off the trailers, some exhibitors say despite the tough economy, it was important to be at the expo this week.

"The economy being what it is we've got a new single row planter for the large home owner and the community type garden people. There's nothing like it in the market place," said Jim Meirer of J&M Enterprises.

Despite losing about a dozen exhibitors who couldn't afford to make the trip to Moultrie, organizers expect a great turnout.

"Our outside space is 100 percent sold out. If we have any empty space it will be in the buildings, but we're looking forward to a great week." said Chip Blalock, executive director of the Sunbelt Ag Expo.

The expo will bring farmers the latest technology, innovations and solutions on how to produce a better, more efficient crop with technologies like biofuel and solar energy.

"We recognize substantiality is a concept that has been important to agriculture for a very long time. If you go back to the Middle Ages, we realized crop rotation systems," said Dr. Paul Patterson, associate dean for instruction at Auburn University.

The series on back yard gardening has also been expanded this year.

"We have actually designed a unit that is portable it actually rolls around it is connected with a garden hose and each pod is jetted and it's very water conservative," said Terry Hill of Portable Home Gardens.

The expo will include daily harvesting and field demonstrations giving farmers a first hand opportunity to evaluate the latest technology.

"We've got the latest in precision ag-technology, we've got the latest in hay bailing with cotton and peanut harvests, the whole gamete," said Blalock.

Along with a look at new seed varieties that eventually may lead to a better yield.

Organizers have also put together an educational scavenger hunt for the FFA and 4-H students who will attend expo so they'll learn something from their experience during the three-day show.

The expo is expected to have a $16 million impact for the region and when adding in the field days that lead up to the expo, that amount nearly doubles.

The Sunbelt Ag Expo kicks off Tuesday at 8:30am. Tuesday and Wednesday the gates close at 5pm. It closes at 4pm on Thursday. Admission is $10. Children under 12 are free.

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