Grainews editor Jay Whetter was at the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky for two days, February 12 and 13. Here are his top picks

The late Howard Cosell was a stubborn man. No matter how many times he was told or how many times he heard the name, the veteran sportscaster insisted on pronouncing Louisville, the home of the Kentucky Derby, as though it were spelled “Lewisville.” It’s supposed to be “Lou-ee-ville” or, as the locals say, “Loo-vul.”

I got this story from a cab driver who gave me a short history lesson on the way from my hotel to the exhibition centre. One neighbourhood we drove through has blocks and blocks of tall and stately red brick houses. Most are well maintained, except for those under the shadow of elevated Interstate 65. “It’s the largest collection of these houses left in the country,” said the cabbie. “They’re still here because we didn’t have earthquakes or a major fire.”

The city’s other claims to fame are Louisville Slugger baseball bats and Muhammad Ali, the famous boxer who was born Cassius Clay in the city in 1942.

Louisville is also home to the National Farm Machinery Show, the largest indoor farm show in the U. S. Every corner of the 27-acre exhibition centre is filled with farm machinery, from the very small — mess-free oil drain plugs, for example — to the very large, such as Balzer’s 2,000-bushel grain cart. As at Agritechnica, which I attended in Germany in November 2007, I couldn’t possibly see everything. Of the things I did stop to look at, here are my top picks.

BALZER CART HOLDS 2,000 BUSHELS

Grainews featured Balzer’s 1,800-bushel cart a couple of years ago.

Now the company has upped the ante with a 2,000-bushel version on six 950-mm tires. “It holds enough for Canadian farmers to fill a Super-B completely,” says Balzer president Randy McMahon.

The cart has a 24-inch unload auger that can move 1,090 bushels per minute at its peak. It won’t work flat out all the time, but you can load a Super-B truck in less than five minutes start to finish. That includes time to close the tarps. The spout moves side to side and in and out to aim correctly.

McMahon says you need a minimum 300-horsepower tractor to handle the cart.

And he specifies that you use a 4WD. A front-wheel assist tractor with 300 hp will be able to pull the cart, he says, but it might have trouble getting the cart stopped.

For more information, contact Balzer in Mountain Lake, Minnesota at 1-800-795-8551, 1-507-427-3133 or

WESTENDORF FM LOADER STANDS ON ITS OWN

Westendorf calls its new front-end loader the “Freedom Mount” because you can put it on and take it off the tractor so easily. You rotate the bucket into its dump position, place it on the ground, release the connectors and back away. It stands on its own, without brackets.

FM loader arms get thicker as you move toward the mounting bracket, adding extra strength. The curved arms also give you the “freedom” to use large front tires with fenders and still be able to turn fully. All hydraulic hoses are hidden inside the arms and out of the way. Westendorf makes five models of the FM loader, with sizes to fit tractors from 45 to 260

horsepower.

FM buckets are tapered outward — they are wider at the mouth than at the back. “When moving snow with this loader, the snow pops out of the bucket like ice from an ice cube tray,” says Julie Ellingson, Westendorf’s marketing person. For more information,

call the company in Onawa, Iowa toll free at 1-877-695-6233 or visit the website at

What first attracted me to the Westendorf exhibit was their simple tractor dual changer, which they’ve been making for years. It mounts on a front-end loader and positions a dual weighing up to 600 pounds. The dual rests on a wheel at the end of the dual changer so you can spin the dual to line up with lug bolts. The changer has a small hydraulic jack to raise and lower the wheel in small increments. Suggested retail price is US$450.

JCB FASTRAC GOES 70 KM/H

The U. K. tractor and loader company JCB has been making its high-speed Fastrac tractor for years, but I’ve never actually seen one on a farm in Canada. Two of the latest models, 8250 and 7230, were on display in

Louisville.

Model 8250 has a 280-horsepower Cummins QSC engine. Model 7230, the largest of the smaller-framed 7000 Series, has a 230-hp Cummins QSB. The distinctive features on all Fastracs are the forward positioning of the cab, top speed of 70 km/h (43 mph), and full suspension with four-wheel disc braking.

I asked Ray Bingley, JCB’s vice-president for North American agriculture business, what type of farmer would benefit from these features. “Is it for the farmer who has to travel long distances between fields and wants to move quickly?”, I asked. Bingley says the biggest advantage is not so much the high speed, but the top-notch suspension. “It provides a smooth ride for higher-speed field operations, such as spraying or pulling

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