DeKALB – Some have specific reasons for attending the 32nd annual Northern Illinois Farm Show, but many just go to browse and see what's new.
Patty Pfau of Leland waited while her husband, Bill, took the pesticide applicator licensing test.
"This is the second time I've come to the show," Pfau said. "He always looks around, but his goal today was to take the licensing test."
Don Halverson of DeKalb went with a couple of friends just to see what's new.
Each year, as many as 8,000 people flood Northern Illinois University's Convocation Center for the two-day farm show. This year's event focuses on technology. Along with various companies displaying equipment, some showed off new software and other precision agriculture technology.
A few of the booths were not yet manned Wednesday morning, largely because of the recent cold temperatures and snowfall, IDEAg Group marketing director Samantha Kaplan said.
"We are nearly sold out with about 220 exhibitors, but we've had a handful held up by the weather," Kaplan said.
She was hopeful the size of the crowd would increase as the mercury climbed. "We changed the hours to start and end an hour earlier, so I'm hoping as the day progresses we'll see more people here," Kaplan said.
A Wednesday morning educational session addressed technology from unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to smartphone apps.
Jeff Keifer, precision agriculture manager for Elburn Cooperative, said he's interested in what the unmanned aerial vehicles might bring to the industry. He provided a laundry list of possibilities including pest identification, the ability to see nutrient deficiencies, quality control of chemical applications, the ability to analyze planter performance, drainage surveillance and topographical mapping just to name a few.
He cautioned the initial investment for the technology could be as high as $80,000. He said the benefits are difficult to validate, and service will not be available until some rules on its use are available.
"And negative connotations from the public could hinder progress," Keifer said.
Mike Richolson of the Natural Resources Conservation Service listed several smartphone apps that farmers might find useful. Apps are available to assist with scouting for pests, mapping fields, identifying weeds and providing weather information.
The session wrapped up with Trent Sanderson of E4 Crop Intelligence talking about his firm's software that puts all the data a farmer might want for his property in one location.
The show continues today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. with pesticide applicator license testing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and "Biodiesel: America's Advanced Biofuel" presented by the Illinois Soybean Association at 10 a.m.
If you go What: Northern Illinois Farm Show When: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. today Where: Northern Illinois University Convocation Center Cost: Admission is free; parking is $5. For more information: www.IDEAgGroup.com.