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Agricultural agents from across country take tour

By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
David Riddling was sweating to get ready for the national agricultural agents tour, but his cattle were as cool as a cucumbers inside the barn with air conditioning.
Riddling’s farm was just one of the stops for a group of extension agents and their families from across America.
More than 1,400 Cooperative Extension agents and families converged in Greensboro last week to attend the National Association of County Agricultural Agents.
The highlight of this large undertaking is agricultural tours of various farming and agricultural production operations in North Carolina. Agents, along with family members, had the opportunity to see agriculture in our state with 32 bus tours.
Led and coordinated by North Carolina extension agents, visiting agents got an up-close view of North Carolina’s agriculture, including Rowan County.
Extension agent Brad Johnson and I had the opportunity to show visitors a small part of agriculture in our county.
Our tour group was extremely diverse, with agents and families from Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Louisiana and Texas.
Cattle at Riddlings’ Farm were part of our tour in Rowan County. These animals were never exposed to sunlight and lodged during the heat of the day in a chilly barn, below 60 degrees, to promote maximum hair growth. These are show cattle, and the Riddlings have to have them at their best, which means a wash every day with their hair clipped to perfection.
The cattleman also uses a special bolus that helps identify his cattle. Using a special microchip on the bolus within the bovines’ rumen, Riddling is able to identify and track the animal from infancy through slaughter using information on his cell phone.
Earlier that day, the group was awed by Tom Smith’s antique John Deere tractor collection. Smith has an amazing number of antique John Deere tractors in mint condition. Just before lunch, the group loaded up on a horse-drawn wagon tour of the exotic animals at the Lazy 5 Exotic Animal Ranch. The group also visited Patterson Farm Inc. tomato-packing and retail outlet.
No tour of North Carolina would be complete without a glance at the stock car racing industry. The final destination was a tour of the Penske Racing facility in Mooresville.Extension agents congregate each year at a national meeting in a different state for educational seminars on topics as diverse as environmental concerns to new electronic teaching methods. The last national meeting in North Carolina was in 1988.
Contact Darrell Blackwelder, Extension Agent-Horticulture, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, at 704-216-8970 or fax 704-216-8995.
Web sites:
– http://rowan. ces.ncsu.edu
– http://www.rowanmastergardener.com
– http://www.rowanhorticulture.com

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