Mississippi State University recently hosted the academic equivalent of a “baited field” for row-crop farmers, consultants, university researchers, Extension agents and industry representatives.

The North Mississippi Row Crops Field Day Aug. 9 provided the latest research information and recommendations for local producers at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona. Participants also heard from Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith.

“Events such as this one are great opportunities for all of us who need to meet with farmers,” she said. “(Farmers) are the backbone of our country. I never cease to be amazed at the innovation of our Mississippi producers.”

Hyde-Smith said agriculture contributed more than $7 billion to the state’s economy last year. In Mississippi, one in four jobs is related to agriculture, and she said she wants to expand that by working with the Mississippi Development Authority. She noted that agritourism is one of the fastest growing segments of tourism in the country.

The commissioner also commended farmers involved in food production. She said in 1960, it took on average one farmer to feed 26 people; today, one farmer feeds 155 people.

“Our diets may differ based on health, wealth and access to food, but we all must eat,” she said. “MSU research allows farmers to produce more per acre and reduce costs per acre.”

Normie Buehring, a research professor with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said the field day benefits all involved.

“Each group that attends needs to hear from and be heard by the other groups participating in the field day,” he said. “University personnel need to hear farmers’ concerns, and these events also offer an opportunity for industry representatives to communicate with others involved in agriculture.”

Glenn Gilmer of Caledonia took part in the field day wearing two hats: one as a row-crop farmer and the other as an industry representative. He manages a retail location for Jimmy Sanders Inc., one of the largest agricultural input supply and distribution businesses in the Mid-South.

A 1996 MSU graduate in crop science, Gilmer said he needs field day events to learn the latest research results that apply to his crops, which include cotton, corn and soybeans. He also uses these opportunities to meet vendors and discuss products that could help his crop production as well as his clients’ farms in the area.

One of the commercial contacts for him was Roger Worsham, a territory manager for Bigham Brothers Inc. The Texas company sells tillage equipment, including some minimum-till tools that appeal to Gilmer and other farmers in the area.

“Our company works closely with Dr. Buehring and other researchers to give them the opportunity to see how this equipment works for area fields,” Worsham said. “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, with us furnishing the equipment, researchers providing unbiased results, and farmers learning more at field days. Documented research is advertising you can’t buy.”

During the event, Buehring was honored for 40 years of service to Mississippi farmers.

“We rely on Dr. Buehring and so do farmers,” Worsham said.