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Tour to showcase farmers’ unique farm management perspectives

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Written Thursday, May 29, 2008  

The 76th annual Farm Management Tour will give farmers a chance to visit four farms and a family owned greenhouse on June 24 and 25, in Bartholomew and Jackson counties.

The tour, cosponsored by Purdue University, showcases various stops displaying a variety of farming techniques like an organic dairy and a farm that thrives on multiple cropping systems to generate a profit.

“Every year the Farm Management Tour is different with new opportunities to learn about farm operations,” said Alan Miller, Purdue Extension farm management specialist. “This year we have more diversity in the stops than usual.

“We will also do something quite different for the tour by visiting a farm that is still in the early stages of making the transition to organic production. We want to explore both the opportunities and challenges for farmers who might consider organic production, which is an increasingly important component of the food industry,” Miller said.

The tour is free and open to the public. Lunch and dinner will be provided but preregistration for both meals and the tour of the Irwin Gardens is required by June 16. To pre-register participants should call 1-888-EXT-INFO or call the Purdue Extension Bartholomew County Office at (812)-379-1665 or (812)-379-1666.

The schedule for the tour is as follows:

Tuesday, June 24

* B & A Thompson Grain Farm—The tour will begin at 1 p.m. with an interview at B & A Thompson Grain Farm, which is located southwest of Cortland. B & A Thompson Grain Farm is in its fifth generation of management. This stop will explore important aspects of keeping the farm in the family including pointers on selecting the right type of business entity. The tour will also focus on ways to develop a successful crop monitoring system and how to manage fertility in no-till cropping systems.

* Brandt Farm Organic Dairy—At 3 p.m. the tour will move just west of Jonesville to the recently developed organic dairy. Brandt Farm started as a conventional dairy in 2001 and by 2007 Justin Burbrink, the owner, was selling certified organic milk to Organic Valley. All feed is grown on the farm consisting of organic silage and corn supplement with intensive rotational grazing.

* Dinner with keynote speaker to follow—The event will continue at the 4-H Community Building in Bartholomew County with dinner at 5:30 p.m. Starting at 6 p.m. the program will be a panel discussion about transferring your farm or family business to the next generation. Panelists will include attorney Jeff Washburn, Miller and a few local farmers. A guided twilight walk through the Irwin Gardens in downtown Columbus will follow at 8 p.m.

Wednesday, June 25

* Elsbury Greenhouses—The tour will start again at 8 a.m. near Hope. This family operation has over 15,000 visitors a year that purchase their plants and produce. To help with rising energy costs the Elsbury’s installed a corn-stove that burns old corn to heat one of the greenhouses and they use computer controlled ventilation to maintain optimal temperature.

* Gelfius Farms—At 10 a.m. the tour will continue east of Newbern, to a farm that produces a variety of specialty crops. These include seed corn, amylose corn, processing tomatoes, seed soybeans, and snap green beans, in addition to commodity winter wheat, corn and soybeans. Lunch will be served at noon at the Gelfius Farm with keynote speaker Chris Hurt, Purdue Extension marketing specialist, presenting an agricultural outlook update.

* Shane Meier Farm—The last stop on the tour will start at 1:30 p.m. at the Meier Farm southwest of Grammer. Meier is a strong believer in using various techniques to lower costs per unit of production. He does this by using practices such as no-till and cover crops to increase productivity.

More information about the Farm Management Tour and a map is available at http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/extension/programs/farm_tour.asp .

The Farm Management Tour is sponsored by Purdue’s Department of Agriculture Economics, Purdue Extension and the Indiana Farm Management Association.

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