Colusa showcases the future of farming

The Colusa Farm Show wrapped up its 53rd exhibition last Thursday after thousands of visitors strolled through the Colusa County Fairgrounds to see the latest in farm equipment, implements, and vehicles, as well as network with other farmers and service providers.

When it comes to agricultural technology, new, efficient, powerful, and clean were the hallmark of the Colusa Farm Show in 2018.

From global unmanned spray systems to a Swiss Power, 3600 horsepower tractor that could pull the Farm Show on a flatbed, thousands of pieces of equipment scattered indoors and out over 55 acres had something for everyone.

“I liked the Farm Show because they let you climb on the tractors,” said 11-year-old Casey Weston of Yuba City, toward the end of the third day. “I like the John Deere, but they are all pretty cool. Some stuff I don’t know what it does, but it looks like something that should be in movies.”

All three days had sunny and warm temperatures, although Tuesday’s opening-day wind got the better of some. Many vendors thought attendance might actually have been down from last year’s rainy show, since warm days often get some workers into the fields earlier.

And what people might have missed at the Colusa Farm Show will likely be back on display at the World Ag Expo, which got underway Tuesday.

Pioneer Machinery of Woodland, which rents and sells heavy equipment, pitched the new Metalcraft TILT scraper at Colusa’ show, before sending it to the World Ag Expo, which runs through Thursday in Tulare.

“This scraper saves time and money by utilizing tilt sensors and GPS controls to create precision slopes without the expense of dozers or motor graders,” said Amanda Carlson, a company representative.

This year was Pioneer Machinery’s fourth year at the Colusa Farm Show, said salesman Jim Willis, and they plan to be back next year.

A number of new equipment and service vendors got into the Farm Show for the first time this year, including GCI Insurance Brokers of Orland, a family owned company since 1958.

“It was great,” representative Mick Smith said. “It was an opportunity to network with our customers and the insurance companies we represent, and introduce ourselves to new customers.”

The Colusa Farm Show also served at an educational experience for busloads of high school students throughout Northern California. Some schools had their students do scavenger hunts to find and photograph vendors that matched the subjects on their scorecards.

Although the Almond Growers meeting at the Farm Show was well attended, several seminar hosts were disappointed with the low attendance at the their events, something Fair Board members hope to improve on for next year.

Director Sue Gibbs, along with the few people who attended the seminars, found the subjects interesting and informative, and said she may contact the local schools next year to see if the Farm Show can at least attract high school students to attend.

“Maybe they can come and sit through at a seminar and do a report about it for extra credit,” Gibbs said.

While equipment and service networking is the primary purpose of the Colusa Farm Show, officials said, informing the public and farmers about important issues such as drought, changing laws, environmental pressures, availability of grants and services, and other agricultural issues is necessary to sustain the future of farming in California, said former Colusa County Supervisor and cattleman Jerry Maltby of Family Water Alliance.

“It’s education; it has to be,” Maltby said. “The Cattlewomen’s Association has done more for the cattle industry than any cowboy who has ever walked. They’ve gone out and gone into the schools; they’ve gone to San Francisco; they’ve gone to the State Fair and Los Angeles, and they put on everything from seminars to going into the classroom. Now the greatest thing we’ve got going for us is the Farm-to-Fork (initiative) in Sacramento. That has just exploded more than any of us ever thought it would. It’s all about educating these people, and it takes time and it takes money. But as an industry, and we’re so small, we need others. We need to educate the city people to be on our side and advocate for us because we can’t just do it ourselves.”

A number of other local organizations were at the Colusa Farm Show, either as seminar hosts or with spots on the grounds to network.

Joan Morrell, of the Colusa County Master Gardeners, said this was the fourth Colusa Farm Show the group had a booth to talk about garden and tree care.

“We’ve had a lot of students, and a lot of people of all ages, young and old,” Morrell said. “We want people to see there are so many opportunities to grow different things in Colusa County, like trees and all kinds of vegetables. We have all kinds of information available to them. We have an office here. There are about 25 master gardeners here in Colusa County, and we want to get the information out.”

Firefighters with the Maxwell Fire Department were also at the Colusa Farm Show this year, debuting their new full-size Kubota utility vehicle, which will be raffled at the 2019 Crab Feed next January. Tickets this year are $50 for the $16,000 prize.

The raffle is the department’s major fundraiser, said firefighter Favian Rolon.

“All the proceeds go for equipment so we can serve and protect the people of Maxwell,” Rolon said.

Farm Show attendees said they enjoyed the Farm Show this year, and the many new vendors in attendance.

“The Colusa Farm Show is always good,” said Richard Preston of Esparto, on Thursday. “This gives us a jump on deciding what equipment we need. I can pretty much make up my mind from this show, without having to go to the World Ag Expo.” ■