A Message From The President

Scott Niemela

Whats in the Changing of a Name?

I still feel as though we are planning for our first ever field day, despite it being our 5th event.

Changes from our first event to this one are numerous, although some stay unchanged. Among the unchanged, each year a handful of deep-rooted questions weigh on me, each question being incapable of being pulled from my consciousness.

What if it rains? How big will this be? Are we providing value for both vendors and attendees?

Will we be able to continually find something new of value to demonstrate? Are we reaching all who could benefit from this event?

The elusive answers are time-bound and will only reveal themselves upon the conclusion of another field day.

Over the last 2 years, the last question has begun to bother me more and more. 

I have a network of farmers who are always fighting to stay “ahead of the curve” and some are organic, some are not.

These are farmers who are fearless of trying new things that fit to try to improve their operation, but are equally as fearful of the status quo.

When the Organic Farm Innovation Expo would be brought up in conversation, they would dismiss it with the wave of a hand because “I’m not organic.”

Despite that our topics revolved around weed resistance, crop rotations, succession planning, and markets – the same conversations we have as organic farmers. I began to see how the name turned away business-minded people who could better their operation and get exposure to what is up-and-coming, because in their mind, it was limited to one crowd – the organic farmer. 

The First Event

The first field day was specifically for organic farms. Crop Fertility Services (CFS) started it as a hands on sales tool that evolved into more people showing up, year by year.

For the 3rd event, CFS gave it a name of its own when competing vendors were invited to demonstrate alongside the products CFS sold.

At its core, CFS values customer success over a sale, so having competing brands demonstrated among the ones sold by CFS allowed customers to make better decisions for their operation.

The feedback was tremendous! As all successes go, it was short lived, and the planning season begins again. And with that, the questions start again. What if it rains? How big will this be? Are we providing value for both vendors and attendees? Will we be able to continually find something new of value to demonstrate? Are we reaching all who could benefit from this event?

Taking On A Life Of It’s Own

As the event has grown, its taken on a life of its own. The same applies to the products, technology and innovation brought to the event. When dealing with a wide variety of vendors, it can truly be difficult to know if a piece of equipment or technology will be suitable for an operation.

With each individual farm having unique resources to work with or around- land base, time, experience, distance, and equity to name a couple – technological innovations and advancements can help bridge the gap or break through a ceiling to help farms remain sustainable for years to come.

Allowing a space where farmers and vendors can share experience and wisdom with each other helps glean the valuable information from the chaff. In addition, the years of feedback from attendee’s confirm that one thing is certain – There is not a replacement to seeing firsthand the item of interest operate, followed by a personal interaction with it.

That is an experience garnered that cannot be replicated outside of the field. It’s that place where the items that have been weighing on their mind have a chance to prove themselves to be fit of a new owner. 

Never Complacent

At the 4th annual event during my opening speech, I made it clear we are not content with past successes.

So much so that I was unsure we could find enough new technology and innovation to spur enough interest to have another event the following year, and be sustainable.

Upon a review of our financial sustainability, the need for change was evident as we combed through the financials of this event to find that the income covered half of the event cost – the rest being sponsored by Crop Fertility Services.

In an effort to keep the event going, we’ve separated the event into a non-profit, forming a board with directors in 3 different states.

With that taking place, we had to decide WHO we are serving. Ultimately, we are looking for the progressive farmer that is capable of recognizing the future when they see it, and able to understand ROI  principles.

We want to be able to demonstrate technology in the field outside of GMO’s, chemical herbicide, fungicide, and pesticide applications. Truly, the methods of organic farming will be demonstrated and focused, but ultimately, if we can show something that advances regenerative or sustainable agriculture, we will happily promote that.

The Farm Innovation Expo

This is the Farm Innovation Expo. The event where potential customers can experience firsthand HOW the equipment works, paired with the opportunity to build a relationship with the inventor, and learn WHY it was created. 

Here at the Farm Innovation Expo, we seek to build a future that has significantly diminished the need for chemical usage while maintaining bluer waters and greener fields. We foresee the widespread chemical usage that has dominated the ag industry for the last 50 years will evolve once again. It begs to ponder the next set of questions – How many years away is that? What will we pursue to improve beyond that horizon? What part will the human race play in agriculture in 50 years? Another set of elusive answers, also time-bound, and they will only reveal themselves once an imagined future becomes the reality of tomorrow.

Back to the here and now, we exist to be the proving ground where successful farms come to find solutions that help them maintain their edge in the industry. It’s the event that shows that old technology that is remodeled and redefined can once more earn its place as modern technology.

It’s also where vendors come to demonstrate their solutions, and learn what key issues their client deals with regularly so they can work on solving them for years to come. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

For today’s crowd, we are connecting a lot of organic farmers and helping them solve weeds in the row.

For tomorrow’s crowd? It’s hard to guess, but I hope the first step to finding that answer will be at the Farm Innovation Expo. 

Vendors, request booth space here

Attendees, join us by reserving tickets here.