The corn around the Farm Progress Show site near Decatur, Ill., was planted early this spring. As long as weather cooperates during the show, Aug. 29-31, there should be a green light for field demonstrations. Working demos are planned each day.
“We’re looking forward to a good year for demonstrations,” says Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress director of trade shows. “Everyone with equipment wanting to show how it works in the field will be itching to get going and let you see it.”
Companies decide which pieces of equipment they want to use during field demonstrations. Odds are that no matter your favorite brand, the company will have combines and/or tillage equipment ready to roll during the show.
At 11 a.m. CDT each morning, combines will have their hour of glory, notes Ed Harris, who works with equipment companies on behalf of the show staff to make sure demonstrations go smoothly. He is assisted by Matt Muirhead, who farms near Oakley, Ill. Muirhead has helped with field demos for many years.
Harris and Muirhead meet with the equipment operators who will run the machines in the field the day before the show to finalize plans and make sure everyone understands the rules. The organizers place a high priority on practicing safety in the field. That applies to both those driving tractors and combines, and visitors who come to watch.
If it appears that weather conditions will play a role in the demonstrations, a plan is worked out during this meeting. Only corn will be harvested.
Before each combine runs the first time, either Harris or Muirhead will explain information about the machine provided to them by company reps during the preshow meeting. “We choose to do it this way and read their information off of notecards they prepared so that everyone gets a fair chance to let people know the features of their machine,” Muirhead says.
Once the combines have each run one time, they will operate without stopping until they’ve harvested the acres set aside for that day.
Tiling demonstrations are scheduled from noon to 1 p.m.
Tractors of all descriptions pulling almost every kind of tillage tool imaginable will take to the field from 2 to 3 p.m. CDT each day. A large number of tillage tools, ranging from disks to chisel plows to specialty tillage tools, are expected to run.
Muirhead notes that vertical-tillage tools have been popular at recent shows. He expects a lot of interest in these again this year. Typically a dozen or more vertical-tillage tools operate during demos.
Most vertical-tillage tools typically work better when run at 7 to 9 miles per hour. Show organizers will divide the tillage tools into two classes by speed of operation, Harris says. Each company can choose the speed at which it wants to run its implement, within reason.
“We want to emphasize allowing visitors to see what it looks like after each tool runs this year,” Jungmann explains. That’s why the rope line that separates visitors from operating equipment is allowed to move forward after each pass.
Once each tillage tool has made a pass, they will run without stopping until the acreage designated for that day is tilled.
MOVING TARGET: Notice everyone stays behind the rope as equipment passes by. Organizers allow the rope to move forward after the pass so visitors can inspect the results of the last pass.
Safety rules aren’t just important for drivers. “We take safety for visitors very seriously,” Harris says. Be sure to obey all instructions from FPS staff in charge of the field demonstrations. They will be wearing gear that identifies them as show personnel. It’s their call as to when it’s safe for a machine to run. They won’t signal the next machine to make a pass until they are satisfied everyone is out of the way.
Trams will be available for those who have trouble walking to the field. They will run continuously during demonstration times. The trams will load and unload at the north end of Central Avenue.
Be sure to keep all hands and feet inside the tram, and to enter or exit only when the tram is stopped for pickup or drop-off of passengers.
If you’re taking a golf car or ATV to the field just to watch, pay special attention to directions from those in charge, Harris asks. Remain aware of visitors who are walking near you at all times.
Ride ’n’ Drive areas will also be provided for companies that want to show equipment to potential customers up close and personal. This will occur in the designated area noted on the map, and will be available anytime during show hours.
Drone demonstrations are also planned. They will occur at a specified time and location. Dennis Bowman of the University of Illinois is in charge of UAV demonstrations. Companies that choose to participate will work through him.
Note the field layout and tentative schedule on the map below. If changes to the schedule are made, they will be posted in convenient locations. See you in the field!