On Feb. 8, I was excited to work at the World Ag Expo, billed as the largest agricultural trade show in the world. As a newcomer to such events, when I saw the huge line waiting to get through the main gates on opening day, the first thing that popped into my mind was the word “incredible.”

NRCS California staffed three different booths at the show – one for a field office program, one about manure management and one on conservation tillage. I had the opportunity to spend time at each booth, and visitors were extremely thankful for our handouts and conservation advice. The farm show also featured demonstrations of building-sized farm implements and valuable lectures – including one on conservation tillage co-hosted by NRCS.

Larger vendors had outdoor displays, allowing people an opportunity to sit in tractors, test-drive new trucks, and put their hands on the newest engines, power washers and hundreds of other pieces of equipment. Smaller vendors shared space in massive tents, displaying everything from conventional herbicides to organic chicken-manure fertilizer.

While the World Ag Expo predominantly caters to conventional farming, this year organic production had a strong presence, including NRCS partners Oregon Tilth and California Certified Organic Farmers, who distributed handouts and answered questions about their services.

Curious about others’ experiences at the show, I asked my coworker Jacqui Gaskill, NRCS California’s new energy conservationist, what product she was most impressed with. She responded, “A new biodiesel production machine, which was amazing because it is portable and compact, and allows a producer to create on-farm fuel using either vegetable oil or animal fat.” I have to agree that that is pretty cool!

For those who have never been to a farm show, this three-day event is a perfect family outing, featuring live entertainment every day and incredible food options. Kids loved the live animals and free chocolate milk at the Real California Milk booth.

I really enjoyed my day at World Ag Expo. This farm show is perfect for a farmer looking for new equipment or just a fun outing for the whole family. My only regret is that the “flash mob” I kept reading about in the local news did not happen. I was looking forward to watching a bunch of folks in boots and hats spontaneously start singing and dancing in the middle of the farm show.

Check out more conservation stories on the USDA blog.