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Merrillee Visits the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie – Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

If you are a farmer or have any interest in farms or farming, the place to be on Oct. 16– 18, 2018 was the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.  On a 100-acre exhibit area and 600 acres demonstration area, 1,200 exhibitors and over 300 seminars and demonstrations took place, as well as a daily parade of antique tractors.  Innovation, science, technology and education are the themes of this largest farm show in the southeast, and the largest in the US to offer harvesting and tillage demonstrations with the latest techniques and machinery.

Research is emphasized, since the Expo works closely with 22 colleges and universities, including the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida Farm Bureau, and one of the grant supporters is Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.

Merrillee attended to learn and discuss water conservation and agricultural techniques with salesmen and reps.

Arriving early at 8:30, Merrillee discovered that, even here in the far reaches of Georgia, her sign volunteers had preceded her.  Although a watchful eye was kept, no sign of any of her competitors was apparent throughout the long, hot day.  Perhaps they have little interest in agriculture.

Merrillee chats with Allison of the University of Florida College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, who also happens to reside in Fort White.

Also from High Springs is Hollie Hill; she brought a group of enthusiastic Future Farmers of America students to the event.  Also from the area is Paulette Tomlinson, here representing the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and shown in the image below.  Sustainability is key to agricultural procedures.


The exhibit dealing with Florida cropland data caught Merrillee’s eye, and the products and information offered, as seen also in the image below.


One additional exhibitor from Florida is Pete Collins of Live Oak, who is advocating Suwannee Hi Cal, which is a calcium based product used to promote growth.

Not from near Florida, but of interest to Merrillee because he represents irrigation, is the Nebraska Irrigation dealer from Columbus, Nebraska.  Nebraska is the home of the center pivot, so popular now with producers in many parts of the country, including Florida.  Nebraska has learned long ago that they cannot give free water away to all askers, as is done in Florida.  The Ogalalla Aquifer is huge but does not contain enough water to satisfy all those who would pump it out.  Florida is fast reaching that point, but most here are still in denial.  Merrillee has been working on preserving our water for over ten years.

There was no dearth of new, heavy and expensive equipment, designed to make the farmers’ life easier.

The size of a small house is this Colombo TwinMaster 2 combine, designed to harvest peanuts in a fast and efficient manner.

Merrillee has fought a hard battle with chicken Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOS) placed irresponsibly on aquifer high recharge areas very near the Santa Fe River.  She toured the commercial poultry operations building where the equipment is displayed.   The fragility of the aquifer and its susceptibility to pollution is not well understood by many, as was the case of the Columbia County commissioners who did nothing to stop the chicken CAFO placed between the Town of Fort White and the Santa Fe River.

Merrillee spoke at length about municipality wastewater wetland treatment centers with hydroponic scientists from Fort Valley State University in Georgia.