Field days can bring the heat, but shed light on agriculture’s importance

Summer has begun, and that means Farm Press editors are hitting the road to the field days that will be held by the land-grant universities and seed and chemical input suppliers in our respective territories.

Field days can occur at other times, of course, but the summer months seem to attract the lion’s share of them since that is when most of the row crops we cover are growing and farmers can see how different products and practices work.

There’s no rule that says field days have to be held when temperatures are at least 95 degrees – it just seems that way. I remember attending the Milan, Tenn., No-Till Field Day when the temperature reached 104 degrees one July. But I’ve also covered events where I wished I had worn another layer of clothing.

The Milan Field Day, which some years attracted more than 15,000 attendees, became a victim of its own success. The field day is now held every other year since most farmers now practice far less tillage than they once did.

The organizers of the annual Pest Management and Crop Production Field Day at the LSU AgCenter’s Northeast Research Station provided a nice breeze for most of their field day on June 17. The field day, which is always held in the morning, attracted 150 farmers, consultants, industry representatives and university personnel.

That’s a good crowd when you consider there’s really not much else to bring folks to the St. Joseph, La., area where the station is located. St. Joseph is one of the nicer towns in the Louisiana Delta, but it’s not a tourist mecca.

Dr. Bill Richardson, the vice president for agriculture at LSU, alluded to this fact when he gave farmers an update on the ongoing budget battles in the Louisiana Legislature.

This year’s budget process, which began with the threat of an 83 percent reduction in funding for the LSU AgCenter’s operations, turned out much better than it could have because farmers flooded their representatives and senators with phone calls, reminding them of the importance of agriculture.

“This is one of the largest row-crop-producing areas in the United States,” said Richardson, referring to the Mississippi River parishes along the eastern side of Louisiana. “So to not have a research station right in the middle of that would be almost laughable. These facilities are critical. Farmers know that, and they stepped up.”

Field days can be hot and uncomfortable. But they’re important because they provide information to producers. And if they give much-deserved recognition to scientists and their associates who live in some of the less hospitable places in the world, so much the better.

To get Wikipedia’s take on field days, visit

TAGS: Agenda
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