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Woodford County Farm Tour set for July 24

The 52nd annual Woodford County Farm Tour on Monday, July 24, will include stops at the University of Kentucky Research Farm and Midway University. At UK, visitors will learn more about hemp production in Kentucky and how technology is being used in agriculture to drive "down costs by improving their efficiencies," said Adam Probst, Woodford County's UK Extension agent for agriculture. Probst, who described drones as probably the next "big thing in agriculture," said the unmanned aerial vehicles are being outfitted with sensors to identify areas of a field that are deficient in nitrogen in order to increase yield. Drones also can do aerial applications of fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides to help reduce production costs. And drones can provide images of a cattle herd at the back of a farm while the farmer sits in his living room. Also because of advances in technology, farm tractors are being built to operate autonomously without a driver, and more commonly, tractors are being equipped with auto-steer to ensure more precise planting and pest control applications, Probst said. Visitors to the UK Research Farm on Midway Road will also hear about the challenges of growing hemp and the opportunities that may lay ahead for local farmers, while getting to see a sizable hemp crop. One of the challenges faced by growers has been establishing a market to sell hemp products including oils extracted from seeds, food and fiber, which has been used on interior parts for automobiles. "And it has got to be profitable for the farmer," said Probst. As markets develop for fiber and other hemp products, the crop could become more of a revenue source for farmers in Kentucky, he said. A session on improving water quality at the UK Farm will offer tips to help someone dealing with similar issues in a backyard stream, Probst said. The visit to Midway University's campus will be highlighted by an insider's look at the institution's equine science program. "A lot of folks know that (Midway University) has an equine science program," said Probst, "but may not know the amount of students that go through (their program) and the type of program that they have." Probst said he has been working with Midway University in recent months on horse pasture management. So this stop will also provide an opportunity to answer questions about overgrazing - or in some cases under-grazing - pasturelands, he said. The unique challenges of managing equine pastures are "something every horse owner deals with," Probst explained. So this stop will offer an opportunity to provide the owners of one, two or more horses with some recommendations on how they can manage pasturelands on their farms, he said. Besides learning about horse pasture management and visiting the equine science facilities on Midway University's campus, the Woodford County Farm Tour will visit nearby Walter Bradley Park to learn about efforts to establish native grasses and natural wildlife habitat areas in Midway's public park. The Woodford County Farm Tour begins with "Bear's Breakfast" from 7 to 7:45 a.m. at the Woodford County Fairgrounds Livestock Barn. Buses (everyone on the tour must ride) will begin loading at 8 a.m., with parking available in the Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center parking lot. Lunch will be served at approximately 12:30 p.m. at the livestock barn. In order to help organizers prepare for buses and lunches, call 873-4941 or 873-4601 to reserve space for those going on the farm tour and/or eating lunch. The Woodford County Homemakers are again asking for the community's support on its annual Backpack Project, which provides school supplies to more than 350 students in Woodford County who would otherwise start the school year without them. Anyone who eats breakfast and/or lunch is being asked to donate five-subject wide-rule notebooks, colored pencils, 24-count Crayola crayons, No. 2 pencils, scissors (blunt-end) and glue sticks, or make a cash donation.

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