Progressive Dairyman editors Walt Cooley and Jenna Hurty, as well as staff writer Melissa Miller, attended World Ag Expo in Tulare, California, Feb. 10-12, 2015. In addition to hosting a video farm tour and other seminars, staff members walked around the show looking for something new or for interesting ideas that might be useful to dairy producers. Below are their thoughts and comments about what they saw.

Derek Carr

World Ag bests World Dairy
In at least one category, World Ag Expo has at least one claim to fame that World Dairy Expo doesn't. The largest outdoor farm show in the world has hosted NFL football players from three different NFL teams.

The players were invited to the show through Fuel Up to Play 60, a partnership between the National Dairy Council and the NFL to encourage school-age children to eat nutrient-rich foods, including dairy, and to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. World Dairy Expo has yet to claim the same privilege. Granted, the Wisconsin-based show occurs during the football season, which makes scheduling a player more difficult.

This year NFL players Derek Carr, of the Oakland Raiders, and Kendall Reyes, defensive end for the San Diego Chargers, were at World Ag Expo for an hour to sign autographs. Last year San Francisco 49er linebacker Patrick Willis attended the show and signed autographs.

—Editor Walt Cooley


Milk samples

Wisconsin has milk shakes; California has a milk bar
For the second year in a row, Top O' the Morn Farms has exhibited at World Ag Expo with its unique milk bar. For $1, attendees could taste a number of the local fluid processor's unique flavors, including Tuxedo (reduced-fat chocolate milk and whole white milk), Half-Calf (half and half mixed with espresso) and The Root (reduced-fat root beer flavored milk).

In my opinion, it's not quite as tasty or as much for a buck as the thick chocolate milk shake you can get at World Dairy Expo's Badger Dairy Club stand. But it's a fun new tradition that I hope sticks.

—Editor Walt Cooley

New doors on Farm Credit Dairy Center
Steel crash-bar doors at all entrances were a new feature of the Farm Credit Dairy Center this year. They replaced the building's former curtain closures. World Ag Expo CEO and General Manager Jerry Sinift says the doors will make the building more secure both during the show and during other non-show days throughout the year.

The new doors should also help keep the building a bit warmer as the openings for the curtains were wider and more drafty. Attendees wouldn't have noticed the extra warmth this year as the weather for the show was sunny with highs in the upper 60s for each of the show days.

—Editor Walt Cooley

A remote-control skid steer someday
While the other skid steer manufacturers are busy building more durable cages to protect the operator, the people at Cooper Gray Robotics LLC decided they would take the operator out of the machine completely and build the first robotic, electric skid steer. This remote-controlled machine has all of the same power and maneuverability of a regular skid steer, but without the risk. Although this product is not currently for sale, they plan to have it on the market within the next year.

—Editor Jenna Hurty

vending machine

A vending machine for dairies
How many times have you gone to get a medication out of your storage area only to realize that you used it up last week and forgot to order more? Apex Supply Chain Technologies has developed a new way of storing your medications, cleaners, vaccines and other consumables. They put them in a vending machine, which can be set up so each employee has their own pin code to access the compartments. These compartments are weight sensitive, so not only can you track who took the medication, but you can track how many they took. It can also be set up to automatically reorder the product when it is running low and have it shipped to you.

—Editor Jenna Hurty

Zippkool jacket

You cool your cows; now cool yourself
It’s a common practice to install fans in a cow barn to keep the cows cool, but cows aren’t the only ones who suffer in the heat. The Zippkool company has taken cool to the next level by installing mini-fans into jackets and pants to keep workers cool too. The battery- operated fashion is meant to reduce heat-related illness in ag workers. Company representatives modeled the product at the World Ag Expo, sporting their puffed-out jackets with breezes streaming out the sleeves.

—Staff writer Melissa Miller

Biofiltro earthworms

Worms for pre-treating manure
Seeing colorful candy gummy worms emerging from a box full of wood shavings is enough to get people to stop and ask what this has to do with a dairy. The folks at Bioflitro happily explained their new wastewater treatment technique that utilizes Mother Nature’s recycling pro: the earthworm.

The company sets up large-scale boxes filled with layers of rock and wood chips, and inoculated with earthworms. Dairy wastewater is then sprinkled over the containers, allowing the wood to absorb odors and the worms to process the suspended solids into valuable compost-worthy castings. (Read more about the process in this article.) Perhaps the earthworm will be the dairyman’s new best friend.

—Staff writer Melissa Miller

pen collection

Can you believe this 'pen guy'?
Anyone who's ever attended a dairy trade show knows you're going to come home with some swag. This fellow from Tulare, California, had no qualms carrying his swag proudly on his chest – quite literally. What a guy!

—Editor Walt Cooley

GEA Farm Technologies’ representative

Robotic milking rotary demo
GEA Farm Technologies’ new robotic milking rotary was on display at the show, at least a slice of it. The show nominated it as a Top 10 new product. Throughout the show, a small crowd gathered at the stationary model representing what a sliver of a 50-stall rotary would look like.

Onlookers could watch each stall’s robotic arms attach to the teats of the model cows standing on top of the stationary deck. A rep for the company gave me a personalized introduction to the innovation.

He moved the model cow’s feet and legs back and forth in order to illustrate how the system’s robotic milking arms could indeed relocate and then reposition to attach their milking units to a moving target. The first worldwide installation of the system occurred in 2014 in Germany. The company aims to have two installations in North America before the end of 2016. PD

—Editor Walt Cooley

PHOTO 1: NFL quarterback Derek Carr signs autographs for show attendees on Feb. 11, 2015. Photo by Walt Cooley.

PHOTO 2: For $1, show attendees could purchase a sample of one of Top O' the Morn Farms' unique milk flavors. Photo by Walt Cooley.

PHOTO 3: This automated locker system for storing pharmaceutical or other dairy supplies has the capability to automatically reorder supplies when running low. Photo by Jenna Hurty.

PHOTO 4: This jacket includes a mini-fan to keep workers cool. Photo by Melissa Miller.

PHOTO 5: Bioflitro has a new wastewater treatment technique that utilizes Mother Nature’s recycling pro: the earthworm. Photo by Melissa Miller.

PHOTO 6: David Avalia of Tulare, California, collected this haul of pens in just one day's time while visiting booths at the show. Photo by Walt Cooley.

PHOTO 7:Jeff Manning, a GEA Farm Technologies sales representative for the western U.S., describes how the company’s new robotic milking rotary operates during World Ag Expo 2015.Photo by Walt Cooley.