The December Alfalfa, Forage & Grains Symposium attracted well over 400 growers and industry members who were able to choose from more than 30 speakers at the DoubleTree in Sacramento. Sponsored by the University of California, the event added a twist with the addition of grains, along with the usual exhibit area.

The exhibits of products and services ranged from well known seed and irrigation companies to new exhibitors, including Certa-Set, and Kemin Industries with headquarters in Iowa and offices in 90 countries. Both companies had some interesting information to show at their table at the exhibit area.

The Certa-Set system from CertainTeed is a leak-free irrigation piping system that’s getting more attention from alfalfa growers. Its sled-coupling eliminates leaking and less water is needed, and of course, that has become even more important in recent years. When I stopped at the companies’ table it was interesting to watch the monitor. A guide placed on a swather lifted the polyvinyl chloride piping and the harvester was able to do its job without moving pipeline.

In November a Certa-Set ad in CAFA News pointed out a number of things to consider, such as irrigating alfalfa without borders. What I didn’t realize until I visited at the symposium table were the inroads that have already been made with vegetables and other commodities.

It will be interesting at the next symposium to see how the 2013 season turns out for Certa-Set, as well as Kemin Industries. The company started in 1961 and now manufactures over 500 specialty ingredients for feed, food industries and other markets. Kemin manufactures nutritional ingredients and products, including microbial inoculants and acid-based stabilizers for hay, silage, haylage, total mixed rations and processed grains. Last year’s season started with bad weather for many growers and there was significant interest in improving fresh cut hay and viable hay production.

A good way to end the year

The symposium is where CAFA has its annual breakfast meeting and the presentation of the annual Jim Kuhn Leadership Award. Kuhn was a leader in the alfalfa industry who died at a young age in a vehicle accident in 2005.

The breakfast meeting was a success thanks to the speaker, Annie AcMoody, a director of economic analysis for the Western United Dairymen. Last year the CAFA Board wanted to be more involved in the dairy industry and we were pleased to have AcMoody as our speaker. Before working for the Western United Dairymen she was an ag economist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Her speech was well received and the board looks forward to meeting dairy industry members in 2013.

The 2012 Jim Kuhn Leadership Award was a highlight the first day of the symposium. It was awarded to Joe Machado, a marketing alfalfa specialist for America’s Alfalfa. He began his career in 1981 after graduating from UC Davis and 31 years later he’s glad he started his career in the seed industry. He plans to work in the industry for many more years. He works in California and Arizona, where he has made many friends as he helps growers improve production and the bottom line.