‘Show’ and ‘grow’ synonymous for Ag in Motion

Langham, Sask. — Living up to its name, Glacier FarmMedia’s Ag in Motion has reached its five-year anniversary with no sign of slowing down.

“It’s very exciting for me personally to have a show that the group of us started from a canola field into an event that’s now grown to the size that it is,” show director Rob O’Connor said here Tuesday during the show’s fifth-anniversary kickoff event.

“It’s been phenomenal growth, and to see how things have evolved in the first four years, hitting year five is pretty special.”

About 180 exhibitors were on hand at the AIM site near Langham to mingle, enjoy some barbecue and share birthday cake. Of those, 50-60 were original founding exhibitors.

Several seed exhibitors were also busy at their test plots, preparing their crops for this year’s show, which runs July 16-18.

Morris Industries and Horsch also started seeding canola Tuesday with their respective hardware and software.

O’Connor highlighted how the original 320-acre site evolved from an empty canola field to Western Canada’s first outdoor farm expo.

Now on a full section of land, the show continues to focus on providing first-hand opportunities for farmers to see in-field demonstrations and the latest crop varieties.

The trade show, he said, has more than doubled in size from its first year in 2015, when there were 200 exhibitors and 11,500 attendees.

Year two grew to 302 exhibitors and 16,500 attendees, followed by year three with 409 exhibitors and 25,787 attendees — a 53 per cent increase from 2016.

Last year, there were 459 exhibitors and 30,335 attendees.

Highlights this summer are expected to include more than 500 exhibitors and the second annual Field of STARS, presented by Bayer; the Innovations program, in partnership with the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority and Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada (AMC); and Field of Excellence.

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O’Connor said he wasn’t expecting such rapid growth but certainly welcomes the faster acceptance and participation from western Canadian companies as well as exploding attendance.

“We had a three-year and a five-year plan and to be honest, when I was hired and had the opportunity to start this project, where we got to last year is actually where I thought we’d be in 10 years, not in four,” he said.

Looking to the next three, five and 10 years, he said the site will continue to be developed, but Ag in Motion as a show will always be the showcase feature event on the property.

Field demonstrations, one of the “jewels of the show,” will continue, including air seeder demos, high-clearance sprayer ride and drives, fertilizer spreader demos and earth-moving and trenching demos.

“But we also want to do more,” O’Connor said. “We want to have more season-long demonstrations, where companies work together to demonstrate, ‘If you use my equipment and this company’s crop inputs, this company’s seed genetics — put that all together into one group and they can demonstrate this is how a farming system can look.'”

Producers can look forward to demonstrations of how some of the new autonomous equipment is going to operate in an on-farm scenario, he added.

Portions of the new property will also be used by companies such as Federated Co-operatives as a training centre for their staff and customers.

“When it comes to the industry, we want to be able to offer opportunities for grower associations or for livestock associations to either host meetings or even their own events, whether it’s a livestock-oriented event or whether it’s a series of seminars or training opportunities that associations may want to put on in the field. We can do that for them,” he said.

“That’s what interests me a lot over the next decade.”

Developing partnerships with groups such as STARS and 4-H Canada is also key for the show’s continued success, he said.

“The phenomenal success of STARS’ very first event at Ag in Motion last year gives us the opportunity to do more than just be a place of business, but also a place where we can embrace the industry and rural lifestyle,” he said.

“STARS is becoming so important because people who live in rural areas don’t get the same services that we can get. So for us to be able to work with them, to help them with their success, we’re happy to do that.

“We want to embrace rural Western Canada as well, and that is one of our goals.”

The acquisition last year of the Farm Forum Event by Glacier FarmMedia is another exciting avenue; that event will be held in Saskatoon Dec. 3-5.

“We’re going to be able to offer companies and growers the opportunity to see what happens in the summer,” O’Connor said. “We can talk about it in the fall at the Farm Forum Event or if there’s new products being launched in the fall, they can see that being launched at Farm Forum Event and then being operated in the field at Ag in Motion or in the Field of Excellence.”

“So we’re going to be able to offer more year-round opportunities and programming between the two events.”

— William DeKay writes for the Western Producer in Saskatoon.

rob oconnor

Ag in Motion show director Rob O’Connor discusses future plans with exhibitors during a five-year celebration at the show site on May 14, 2019. (William DeKay photo)

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