43rd National Farm Machinery Show

An indoor equipment extravaganza.


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Where in the world can you survey more than 27 acres of brand new agricultural machinery and not worry about blustery winter winds? Indoors, at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky, that’s where. And it doesn’t matter whether you farm thousands of acres with satellite-assisted equipment or just have an acre or two; tools designed for operations of all sizes were well represented in 2008. No other place in the world can so easily get up-close-and-personal with everything from walk-behind rotary tillers, to electric fencing solutions, to mowers and compact tractors, to big-agriculture behemoths.

I was ushered into this year’s February 13-16 event right along with an unusual blast of winter weather. The hours sitting in aircraft waiting to land and/or de-ice were a small price to pay for the chance to look over the finest that agricultural equipment manufacturers have to offer.

I was naturally drawn to compact tractors, which continue to add untold support for the rural lifestyle, but I couldn’t stop there. Scores of compact implement makers displayed tools that could keep your little tractor busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week if only you had the time and energy to keep at it. If livestock is your thing, there was no shortage of panel, chute and gate makers at the show, and did you know that the new solar electric fence chargers are now easier than ever to set up and maintain?

For the gardeners in the group, there were plenty of small planters and transplanters to look at. Need to move trees around your place? No problem, the show drew several makers of tree transplanting equipment. Want to harvest a little native grass seed? This year’s event showcased a new machine invented specifically to collect that untold bounty.

Covering 27 acres in just two days is work. If traveling to Louisville next February fits into your plans, I would recommend attending all three days, even if you think you’re only interested in mowers. Sometimes just knowing what is out there in the way of tools can lead to a more enjoyable experience living on the land.

In spite of the snow and ice, this year’s event (free to the public) officially drew 301,900 visitors.

“It was quite satisfying to see the show’s exhibitors and attendees spread out into all areas of the facility, especially the newly constructed North Wing,” says Harold Workman, president and CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board, which produces the show. “The extra floor space, an increase in exhibitors, additional free seminars were certainly major factors in drawing such a large crowd.”

The 44th National Farm Machinery Show will be held February 11-14, 2009. For more information about the show, visit www.FarmMachineryShow.org.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .