If you want to take the pulse of the agriculture industry, just head to a farm show. For inventor Dennis Grieve sales of his Air Filter Blaster, which was named one of the Top 10 New Products at the World Ag Expo, were so brisk he raked in $13,000 on the show’s first day. During the three-day farm and equipment show in Tulare, Calif., Grieve sold 175 units of the $199 device, which cleans the elements of an engine’s air filter canister in just seconds.
"Winning this award has been huge," says Grieve, president of Salmon River Innovations, the Idaho company that makes the Air Filter Blaster.
The Air Filter Blaster allows an engine’s air filter canister to be reused several times and extends its life by as much as 20 times longer than traditional cleaning practices, Grieve says. That helps cut fuel and maintenance costs, improves engine performance and increases engine life. "It’s 100% made in the U.S.A.," Grieve adds.
One Air Filter Blaster buyer, cotton grower Ron Clark of Tulare, wrote out a check on the spot inside the New Product Pavilion. When the device arrives in a few weeks, Clark will install it on one of his farm’s tractors. "I saw a news segment on TV about this product," Clark says. "I’m buying one and may buy more."
Optimism boosts sales. Boosting interest in World Ag Expo’s Top 10 New Products—and the hundreds of exhibits that lined the streets of the 60-acre show grounds—was the optimism that permeated this year’s event. With sharply higher prices for many agricultural commodities and rising exports, farmers from across the nation and world were out in full force to look, listen and buy. The optimism, however, didn’t extend to dairy producers, who, despite this year’s higher milk prices, are staggering under high feed costs and two years of financial losses.
A nationwide panel of farmers, ranchers and industry professionals select the Top 10 New Products. The payback, this year’s winners say, isn’t just about on-site sales. The boost in product exposure and interaction with potential customers bring long-term benefits too.
"We’ve had some sales, but we’re mainly here to demonstrate the product," says Jim Mann, who handles sales and marketing for the Ag Flag. The simple tool saves water and cuts flood irrigation costs, a major concern on California farms. At just $20 for an Ag Flag kit, the new product can pay for itself in just a few irrigations, he says.
Mounted at the end of a 5'-long fiberglass pole that’s bent into an inverted U-shape, the bright orange Ag Flag springs up when irrigation water dissolves a strip of paper securing the flag end of the pole to a stake in the ground. Once released and upright, the flag can be seen up to a mile away in daylight. "That signals to a farmer that his irrigation flood water has reached the predetermined location in his field and it’s time to change or shut off the water," Mann says.
Product exposure. As the exclusive California distributor of one of 2011’s Top 10 products, Clayton Isemann found World Ag Expo to be the ideal showcase for the newest generation of the Ezy-Lift crane.
"There have been a lot of prospects and outpouring of support and interest," says Isemann, president of Ezy-Lift of California Inc. "That’s enough—the business will come."
Isemann demonstrated the ease of using the American-made Ezy-Lift hydraulic system to numerous attendees. The 2000-8.0PT Ezy-Lift is a crane system that mounts on a pickup or other vehicle. It can lift up to 2,000 lb. in 90 seconds with the push of a button. The 2,000-lb. model costs $6,200 and the 1,000-lb. model sells for $4,700. Isemann cited several uses for the Ezy-Lift, from lifting pumps, tanks and irrigation piping to lifting injured or dead livestock.
Farther down South Street, Ron Fritsch pointed to his Top 10 winner, the steel-made Push Away grapple. "No one wants to carry one of these home," Fritsch says. "But from an advertising standpoint, the award offers excellent promotion."
Fritsch’s Wisconsin-based company developed and manufactures the $3,100 Push Away grapple, designed for feeding bagged silage to livestock. Targeting dairy and beef producers, Fritsch explains how his patent-pending grapple penetrates tightly packed haylage and grasses and completely fills the bucket of a skid steer or other type of front-end loader in less than 10 seconds.
In the New Product Pavilion, Megan DeRose, T-Hexx Animal Health product manager, displayed a new biodegradable hoof bath that earned a spot in the Top 10 New Product spotlight. T-Hexx Dragonhyde Hoof Bath Concentrate offers a nonhazardous alternative to traditional copper sulfate and formaldehyde products used for dairy cows.
"We’re selling this by the truckloads now," DeRose says. "We’ve sold $800,000 of this product worldwide in the last six months, and with this Top 10 award, sales are growing."
2011 marked the 44th year of the show, displaying the latest in farm equipment, chemicals and technology. This year’s expo attracted an estimated 100,000 visitors from more than 50 countries, and nearly 1,600 exhibitors.