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Agrimarketing : September 2009
56 Agri Marketing September 2009 EVENTS INFORMATION STRAIGHT FROM THE FIELD by the Agri Marketing Editors What started out as a chance meeting between a young ag editor and an agronomist has blossomed into a major industry event --- Farm Journal Corn College. Now in its second year, the event drew nearly 600 corn producers to its central Illinois location this summer. The attendees sported demographics every agri-marketer dreams of: • Average acres of corn: 1,190; soybeans: 813; total acres: 2,324. • 73% had incomes of over $500,000. • 69% were 55 years old or younger. • 75% use GPS and are online. • 52% are looking to expand. THE BEGINNING "In 1991, I went to see another agronomist in Illinois," says Farm Journal Editor Charlene Finck. "When I arrived, Ken Ferrie, an independent crop consultant, was there helping the agronomist troubleshoot a problem with a no-till drill. I saw how he unplugged the drill and listened as he talked about how important the small things are to increasing yields. I quickly realized that his expertise was a cut above any of the many agronomists I knew." Finck was so impressed that she pulled him aside to learn more about his activities and philosophies. "We discussed working together to develop a series of test plots that would fill the gap of information about crop production which wasn't being produced by the universities, companies or dealers." Ferrie was named Farm Journal Field Agronomist and for nearly 20 years, he and Finck have run the Farm Journal Test Plot program. The results are reported on in the maga- zine, as well as other Farm Journal Media properties such as AgDay- TV, U.S. Farm Report and AgWeb. "The articles about the plots are among the most read features in the magazine," Finck says. The stories convey Ferrie's "Systems Approach to Crop Production" and provide farmers with non-biased, third-party research informa- tion. Most impor- tantly, they help our audience make more money farming. A sampling of last year's tests include: • Nitrogen management. • Tillage trials. • The impact of seed quality and size on emergence. • Nematode management. • Field drainage. • Twin-row corn. • Applying insecticides on insect- resistant traited hybrids. • Maximizing corn silage production. "Corn College was launched to enable readers to gain the knowl- edge from the Farm Journal Test Plots first-hand," says Farm Journal's Executive VP/Publisher Steve Custer. "Our goal is to provide growers with agronomic information they can take back to their own oper- ation and implement immediately." Attendees pay $425 to participate in the two day event. For successfully completing the curriculum, each participant receives a Corn College degree. ROCK STAR The event is held at Ferrie's facility, midway between Bloomington and Decatur, IL, where he has a large building for indoor activities, a necessity in the case blazing heat, wind, rain or other inclement weather hits. The site includes 17 acres of demonstration plots that highlight a number of the tests in Farm Journal's thousands of acres of field tests. Ferrie is the Rock Star of the event, as corn producers swarm around him throughout the day, peppering him with questions. "Ken is a high energy guy," Custer comments. "At times, we have to pull him out the crowd to keep things on schedule." Courses this year included "Hands-on in-field diagnosis," "Outfit Your Planter for Maximum Perfor- mance," "Planter Clinic," "Paying the Carbon Penalty," "The ABCs of Phosphorus," "The Basics of Soils," "Knowing a Good Stand When You See One," "A Yield Map to Success," "Soil and Water Management," and "Pulling it All Together." In addition, there were grain marketing presentations by Farm Journal Economist Bob Utterback and Top Third Marketing's Mark Gold. SPONSORSHIPS AND CHANGES Sponsors of the event included many of the leading companies who provide products and services to crop producers. "They receive a variety of benefits, including exhibit space in the Expo tent, recognition in all pre-event publicity, the attendee list and demo profiles of the attendees," Custer explains. To safeguard the hands-on nature of the event, each College session is limited to 200 participants. Demand this year was so high, an additional session was added, which sold out quickly Custer reports. "Looking forward to next year," he concludes, "we are planning to significantly expand the number of events." For more information, go to: www.FarmJournal.com and click on the Farm Journal Corn College logo. AM The Farm Journal Corn College team takes a quick break from their hectic schedule of activities.
Best of CAMA 2009