BY BRAD HAIRE
Farm Press Editorial Staff
SUNBELT AG EXPO is a unique farm show not only because of its
geographic location and huge crowds it draws, but also for a special
600-acre tract of land.
“The Darrell William Research Farm sets Sunbelt Ag Expo apart
from other farm shows,” says Chip Blalock, the organization’s ex-
ecutive director. “We don’t just grow crops to do harvesting demos
during the show — we conduct world-class row crop and forage
research with our partner university and corporate researchers. We
pride ourselves on working with the researchers to test the latest
technology, so when it gets to the farmer it’s ready to go, and to help
improve their bottom line.”
For example, in 1997 the farm was the location for the first trans-
genic double-crop grown in the U.S., lauret canola and BXN cotton.
Since then, the research farm has sought partnerships with research-
ers to investigate and demonstrate the best tools and practices for
producing the South’s important crops in the most profitable, envi-
ronmentally-sound ways possible, Blalock says.
The Sunbelt Expo show occurs in October each year, and the harvest demonstrations that take place on the farm are a major draw for
those who come to the show. The Sunbelt Expo farm also showcases
its research at its Field Day, which takes place mid-July each year,
allowing farmers and industry professionals to see the progress of
research and how crops are growing.
“The Darrell Williams Research Farm has a unique blend of academic and corporate research in row crops and forages,” Blalock says.
“Our Field Day event provides one-stop shopping for the latest innovations in seed varieties, crop protection, soil fertility, water management, and precision ag technology.
“With seed varieties, for example, farmers can compare, contrast,
and think about which seed varieties they will plant the following
University of Georgia researchers and Extension specialists con-
duct numerous trials at the Sunbelt farm for all major Southern
agronomic crops. UGA Cooperative Extension specialists for cotton,
soybeans, and peanuts conduct research on fertility, disease and
pest management, and the best varieties to use in various farming
“An example is our work on Palmer amaranth (pigweed) with Dr.
Stanley Culpepper. Whether it is drift studies, mechanical control of
cover crops, or herbicide systems, we are aggressively working with
him to find ways to economically control this resistant weed.”
ell became farm
before the 2016
Sunbelt Ag Expo, and when he took the lead he knew the farm to
be a working, year-round operation, packed with research and demonstration plots — all of which can make for complex management
for the farm crew.
“There’s more that takes place on the farm than just what is seen
during the three-day Expo in October,” Mitchell says. “We keep the
farm in tip-top condition, because we don’t know who, or which
company might be coming through during the year. We welcome
their visits because it gives us one more opportunity to showcase
the research work taking place here and to educate those who visit.”
Each year, 15 to 20 different companies or university researchers will initiate research projects on the Expo farm, and each project
might have a dozen, two dozen, or more individual plot trials.
Groups that annually, or periodically tour the Expo research
farm include Georgia Farm Bureau, Leadership Georgia, Association
of County Commissioners of Georgia, South Georgia Water tour for
north Georgia Commissioners, Cotton Producer Information Exchange tour, and Chamber Leadership tour. Companies that have
plots on the farm also conduct their own private producer tours, and
exhibitors have dealer and/or producer trainings on the farm. UGA
Extension also conducts meetings and training on the site.
Sunbelt Expo research farm
draws year-round attention
MAY BE PURCHASED AT
Sunbelt Expo Souvenir
T-shirts, Expo caps & 2017 Expo Coke Bottles
are also available for purchase at our online store
Until October 13
2 for $25