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Editorial: Think ahead to farm show

Although one of the biggest events to be hosted by Pierce County in recent history won't happen until next year, local residents should be getting ready for it now.

After all, planning for the 2010 version of Farm Technology Days is already well underway. Billed as being among the largest agricultural expositions in Wisconsin, the area public will want to give a positive impression of this part of the state to those thousands of visitors expected to attend at the Roger and Beverly Peterson Family Farm over three days, July 20-22, 2010.

It will mark the first time for the festivities, formerly known as Farm Progress Days, to be held here. That's understandable because the show is driven by mainstream Wisconsin interests and this vicinity is on the fringe of America's Dairyland. But most of those other 71 counties have benefited by being in the farming spotlight, boosting their economies, since the event's beginnings in the 1950s and Pierce's turn has finally arrived.

Putting on such an event is a massive undertaking. Some 1,500 volunteers will be mobilized to perform duties including serving food, directing traffic, welcoming and shuttling visitors, providing security, collecting trash, erecting and disassembling thousands of feet of fencing, and more. Then there are aspects like negotiating with the state's department of transportation to arrange for show-time Hwy. 29-35 closures, raising promotional funds, presenting a complimentary meal for exhibitors at this year's show in Dodge County and helping pay for infrastructure to transform the Peterson farm into something resembling the state fairgrounds.

The Petersons, who are to be commended for agreeing to have their farm be host site, own 800 acres and operate over 2,100 acres of farmland two miles southeast of River Falls. The farm consists of a dairy operation combined with feeder cattle supported by a sizeable cash grain enterprise. Their management and work force consists of five children and three part-time employees. Additionally, Roger Peterson's parents, LeRoy and Mary-Alice, are still quite active in their own farming operation and work-share with their son and daughter-in-law.

While a traditional dairy farm in herd size and housing, the Petersons implement many forms of technology in both their livestock and crop enterprises. The official rolling herd average for the 73-cow herd last fall was 26,797. There are excellent layout opportunities on the level block of open land adjacent to the south side of Hwy. 29-35. The soils on the site are well drained. Owned and leased land extends both north and south of the highway.

Conservation is a priority for the Petersons. They utilize conservation tillage on their sizeable cropping enterprises. In addition, dams and waterways are integral to keeping their productive soils in place and minimizing runoff of nutrients. A nutrient management plan is followed. The Petersons are part of the Kinnickinnic Priority Watershed and their operation is within one mile of this prized waterway.

Pierce County organizers hope the show here will draw crowds from the Twin Cities area and beyond as well as Western Wisconsin. The county has approximately 19,000 dairy cows spread over its 45-by-50-mile square. So local planners can count on some prime attractions, have lined up an ideal spot and, if the weather cooperates and they get community support, the '10 version of Farm Technology Days has the potential to be a success.