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Behind the scenes at FPVX — making a virtual farm show

Field demonstrations offer unique camera views for the Farm Progress Virtual Experience.

Curt Arens, Mindy Ward

September 14, 2020

15 Slides
A man standing in a field with camera equipment filming a combine tractor

What does it take to create a virtual farm show? Well, a little bit of Farm Progress flair, along with a lot of cameras, combines, cultivators and cattle.

This year, because of COVID-19, the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days went digital as the Farm Progress Virtual Experience, or FPVX. While the show is different, it still offers some comforts you’ve come to know from these two agriculture events.

Back in the field

At the Farm Progress Show site in Boone, Iowa, there was plenty of excitement around combine and tillage demonstrations.

Like much of 2020, the weather for shooting harvest demos at the show site was topsy-turvy. It went from sunny and hot one day to rainy and cold the next. Still, farmers and equipment manufacturers gathered to record FPVX.

Despite corn moisture hitting 22%, the action focused on fieldwork as combines harvested more than 350 acres of corn. About 60 pieces of equipment, which included combines, grain carts and tillage tools, were caught on camera for visitors to FPVX.

Five farmers were on location in Iowa, and five different farmers were in Nebraska. They watched the demonstrations, took photos and interacted with company representatives. Then they shared their thoughts about the equipment with Farm Progress editors for a unique demo review discussion during the virtual event.

Rain can’t stop a show

Most farmers rarely experience perfect haying conditions. And some haying days are better than others. It was that way when film crews and Farm Progress editorial staff spent the day at the Husker Harvest Days show site near Grand Island, Neb., getting footage of swathers, tedders and balers in field demonstrations for the Farm Progress Virtual Experience.

The day started out cloudy, with periods of light rain. That made swathing conditions tough early. By midday, the sun came out, and a light breeze helped improve conditions in the field for tedding and baling.

Crews found a dry spot in the Livestock Industries Building and filmed the live cattle-handling demonstrations. During side-by-side cattle-handling demonstrations, “Dr. Joe” Jeffrey was back at the helm, just as he has been for decades, to narrate, entertain and explain the chutes being demonstrated.

In all, the Farm Progress Virtual Experience is bringing 100 field and cattle-handling demos for more than seven hours of viewing pleasure right into your home, combine cab or machine shed.

New look at equipment

While it’s hard to replace kicking equipment tires, watching field demonstrations and inspecting hay quality in person, this virtual format offers you a unique viewpoint. Camera placement on tractors, combines, tillage tools, balers and other machines, along with high-quality drone footage, allows visitors to FPVX to see one-of-a-kind angles on the latest agriculture technology.

These demonstrations, along with farmer feedback, can be seen when the Farm Progress Virtual Experience goes live Sept. 15-17.

Click on the slideshow and go behind the scenes for the making of the 2020 Farm Progress Virtual Experience. Then head over to FPVX to register and see all the sights, sounds, interviews and demos for this year’s event.

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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