Delaware Ag Week draws record numbers

January 23, 2014 in Feature

A successful Delaware Agriculture Week, held from January 13 to 17, 2014 attracted record attendance at the Delaware State Fairgrounds, home to the event for the past nine years.

In addition to education sessions on the latest research, Delaware Ag Week is also an opportunity to network with neighbors, farmers and industry professionals

In addition to education sessions on the latest research, Delaware Ag Week is also an opportunity to network with neighbors, farmers and industry professionals

An estimated 1900 visitors, up from 1700 last year, drove to Harrington to attend their choice of 97 sessions offered on a variety of topics crucial to Delaware agriculture; poultry, equine, nutrient management, fresh market fruits and vegetables, production crops, irrigation, forestry, horticulture, safety, ACA health insurance,  Integrated Pest Management (IPM), weed and disease control in agronomic crops. Additional presentations covered equine, small ruminants  and beef cattle.

“Ag Week” as it is known in the First State is planned in collaboration with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. In addition to invited experts from around the country, more than 30 sessions were taught by experts from the University of Delaware College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and college staff served as session moderators.

Joanne Whalen, Extension IPM Specialist provided several updates during Ag Week

Joanne Whalen, Extension IPM specialist provided several updates during Ag Week

Cory Whaley, Sussex County agriculture Extension agent and chair of the Delaware Ag Week Planning Committee  was pleased with the the number of people who attended and the 81 vendor exhibits offered during the week.

“Ag Week is great event where the ag community can come together for continuing education, to catch up with friends, and talk with local vendors,” Whaley said. “Much of the success of Ag Week can be attributed to the individual session chairs who identify topics that are relevant and timely and then match these topics with expert speakers from our area and from across the country.”  A complete listing of this year’s program sponsors and exhibitors is available on the Delaware Ag Week website.

Michelle Rodgers, associate dean and director of UD Cooperative Extension, attended many of the sessions throughout Delaware Agriculture Week. Rodgers commended her Extension colleagues’ efforts and teamwork for developing an event that positively impacts the agricultural community. “Hat’s off to the entire team for an excellent Ag Week.” Rodgers said. “We have had record crowds as well as top-notch speakers from Delaware and across the country. Feedback has been very positive,” Rodgers said, adding that attendees especially voiced appreciation on hearing the current research, the breadth of topics offered, and a venue to network with others in the agriculture sector.

Ed Kee, Delaware Secretary of Agriculture, thanked everyone who organized Delaware Ag Week. “We are really connecting. Good job to all the farmers and industry people who participated,” Kee said.

During Delaware Ag Week  attendees were able to earn nutrient management, pesticide and certified crop advisor continuing education credits.

It was the first Ag Week for Nathan Kleczewski, UD Extension plant pathology specialist, who was hired in May 2013.  Along with Dan Egel and Shubin Saha, colleagues from Purdue, Kleczewski felt the collaborative nature of the sessions gave other experts the opportunity to share their research and expertise. “It gives growers an outside perspective and builds collaborations,” said Kleczewski.

Kleczewski was pleased to see 250 people attend the high tunnel and agronomy sessions and received positive feedback. “It was a great way to introduce myself to many people and now that they have a face to put to the name, I expect to receive more calls during the course of the growing season,” Kleczewski said.

Mike Love demonstrates how quickly a farmer can become a victim in a grain silo

Mike Love demonstrates how quickly a farmer can become a victim in a grain silo

A new exhibition for 2014 was the Hazards of Flowing Grain demonstration. Mike Love, agriculture safety Extension agent coordinated the presentations, equipment and resources. Twice a day, Love  conducted a workshop on the dangers of grain entrapment and rescue best practices via a mobile unit developed to scale by Penn State.

An individual entering a grain silo can be entrapped in seconds, Love said. Attempts to move can bury the victim deeper in the grain. Love illustrated the physics behind grain movement within silo storage. A 165-pound. individual effectively becomes 300 pounds when the grain reaches waist level, Love said. Knowing how to safely respond is critical, Love emphasized. The exhibit was enthusiastically received and plans to feature it during the Delaware State Fair in July are being discussed.

Members of the Magnolia Fire Department observe

Members of the Magnolia Fire Department observe a simulated grain entrapment rescue

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings during Ag Week, Love conducted Grain Rescue workshops at the Quillen Arena where first responders utilized best practices for the unique rescue challenge inside a full sized silo mock-up on loan from Perdue Agribusiness Grain Emergency Response Team. More than 100 first responders from Delaware attended and worked in teams as they entrapped a volunteer and practiced the rescue techniques and equipment. “The grain rescue workshops were offered to first responders and farmers so they may learn the characteristics of flowing grain, the causes and best practices for rescue,” Love said.

Philip Russell, 1st Assistant Chief of the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department attended the training Thursday night and found the experience extremely valuable. “This was an eye opener for us. We need to make sure we have the right equipment to make the proper rescue.”  Russell said.

First responders practice rescuing a victim inside a silo

First responders practice rescuing a victim inside a silo provided by Perdue Agribusiness

His colleague, Robbie Roe volunteered as a victim and agreed the training was necessary. “It would be the worst way to die known to man,” Roe exclaimed. ” I couldn’t breathe.” Fortunately, their fire department has not been called out to a grain entrapment, but Roe was grateful for the opportunity to become better prepared. “We have silos in our district we never had before. This [training] is what we need to do.”

Held in January every year, the 2014 event was an opportunity for Rodgers and her Extension colleagues to mark Cooperative Extension’s 100th year of providing research-based information to the public.

 

Click here for additional photos of Delaware Ag Week

Article by Michele Walfred

Photos: Michele Walfred, Cory Whaley, Heather Baker