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EAU CLAIRE, WI (March 11, 2020) - The Farm Demo Committee has finalized the Farm Tours and Demonstrations for 2020 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days (WFTD) in Eau Claire County, July 21-23. This year attendees will be able to tour two very different farms, Huntsinger Farms Horseradish Fields and Nellie Holsteins Dairy Farm. A guided drive by Ferguson’s Orchards will also be part of the dairy tour.
Attendees will be able to take each tour separately between 10am and 2pm all three days of WFTD. Each tour will leave the show’s Tent City on buses with tour guides who will provide a guided experience; each tour will last approximately 30 - 40 minutes and then return to Tent City.
“We are excited to have two farm tours at Farm Technology Days 2020 that show just a sliver of the diversity of agriculture in Northern Wisconsin,” said Kori Richter, co-chair of the Field Demo Committee.
Adding on, Margie Thornton, co-chair of the Field Demo Committee, said, “Nellies Holsteins will show other farmers and the general public all that is positive about family dairy farms, and Huntsinger Farms gives attendees a first-time opportunity to see everything that goes into growing the horseradish that we all have in our fridge. The drive by Ferguson’s Orchards will also provide a great look at what it takes to ensure apple orchards are ready for the future.”
Huntsinger Farms, the world’s largest grower and processor of horseradish, is the host farm for this year’s event, the first time a Horseradish farm has hosted Farm Technology Days in Wisconsin. Along with horseradish, Huntsinger grows soybeans, corn, and forage crops in a five-crop rotation schedule, designed to maximize the quality and yield of the prized root crop.
Founded in 1929 when Ellis Huntsinger started growing horseradish to support his family on a few acres of land near a freshwater spring south of Eau Claire, Huntsinger Farms has been family owned and operated for over 90 years and four generations.
“We are excited to show everyone our family farm, how we have innovated over the years to build a sustainable operation, and help people understand more about the great horseradish root that has become increasingly popular over the years,” said Eric Rygg, president and CEO of Huntsinger Farms and its Silver Spring Foods subsidiary.
The Huntsinger Farm tour will feature the Huntsinger Harvester, its wash water retention pond system, a demonstration of harvesting, the storage process, and the farm’s newly installed solar power system that will generate about 18 percent of the farm’s power year-round.
In addition to the host farm tour, WFTD will feature a separate tour of Nellie Holsteins Dairy Farm.
Nellie Holsteins Dairy Farm
The Nelson family has been dairy farming in the town of Pleasant Valley in Eau Claire County since 1895. Now owned by the founder’s great grandson Doug Nelson, his son Derrick and Derrick’s wife Miranda Nelson, the Nelsons currently milk 200 cows in a double-eight parallel parlor and farms 300 acres of corn and alfalfa to feed their herd.
Visitors will get a close up look at Nellie Holsteins’ recent expansion from 56 to 200 cows and the innovations that allow the Nelsons to manage their operation without additional labor. The goal: to keep costs low and allow the farm to be sustainable into the sixth generation and beyond.
The new four-row free-stall barn that is big enough for drive-through feeding was finished two years ago, in February 2018. The state-of-the-art facility includes alley scrapers, a robotic feed pusher, and activity trackers on the cows, and other technology. The companies that supplied the technology and systems will all be exhibiting at WFTD in Tent City so that visitors can get hands-on experience with the different components that help make Nellie Holsteins run.
“We believe in dairy and are dedicated to reimagining our operation to ensure that my grandchildren and great grandchildren-to-come can live a good life running the family farm in the future,” said Doug Nelson, co-owner of Nellie Holsteins. “We hope that other farmers will enjoy getting a look at what we’ve done, and we look forward to meeting them here.”
Drive-By Ferguson’s Orchards
On the 10-minute bus ride to Nellie Holsteins, visitors will drive by Ferguson’s Orchards, one of the Midwest’s largest commercial apple growers. Tour guides will show riders the 250,000-tree orchard and share how the company uses high density apple growing techniques, trellis systems and state-of-the art irrigation to care for the 21 different varieties grown there. Ferguson’s is also an exhibitor in WFTD’s Innovation Square.
About Wisconsin Farm Technology Days
Wisconsin Farm Technology Days is a three-day outdoor event showcasing the latest developments in production agriculture, including practical applications and recent research and technological developments. This is the only farm show of its size in the United States that is organized and run entirely by volunteers. As the largest outdoor agricultural event in the state, it welcomes more than 45,000 attendees, with more than 600 commercial and educational vendors.
The first WFTD show was named Farm Progress Days and was held in Waupaca County in 1954. Eau Claire County hosted Farm Progress Days in 1992 and has been chosen as the host for the 67th annual event in 2020.
About Agriculture in Eau Claire County
Agriculture works hard for Eau Claire County every day. Family-owned farms, food processors and agriculture-related businesses generate thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity while contributing to local income and tax revenues. Eau Claire County, though dominated by the dairy industry, raises everything from meat goats to milking sheep to apples, grapes and vegetables. The county has seen farm numbers rise, while farm acreage has declined to an average farm size of 155 acres. Migration from the city to rural areas has resulted in smaller farms producing a variety of products. A diverse population has created opportunities to fill ethnic and specialty food niches. Meanwhile, county institutions and farmers have joined forces to produce fresh, healthy products to meet a growing demand for local food.
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Lee McEnany Caraher
Wisconsin Farm Technology Days 2020