MOUNT VERNON, Mo. —
Got moles? Want bees? Hit hard by the drought?
For 50 years, the Southwest Research Center’s annual Field Day has been the place to get answers each September. On Friday, a steady rain and temperatures in the 50s didn’t deter exhibitors from giving those answers or visitors from getting them.
“With this rain, we aren’t going to be able to go visit the hives,” said Monett beekeeper Leon Riggs, who instead relied on a portable display window with about 200 bees. “But we can answer questions people might have inside the barn here at our little booth.”
By 10 a.m., Riggs and his wife, Peggy, already had shown equipment to and answered questions from dozens of people — some of them already beekeepers and others interested in getting started.
“I’m not so much a beekeeper, but more of a bee haver,” laughed Catheryn Davis, a student at the College of the Ozarks who is majoring in agronomy and animal science. She sought help from the Riggses in figuring out what she might be doing wrong at her hives in O’Fallon.
The Riggses, who belong to the Southwest Missouri Beekeepers Association and are strong proponents of mentoring those new to the field, were happy to offer advice.
Also answering plenty of questions was Randy Haas, a wildlife biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, who manned a booth featuring a mountain lion hide, the hide of a black bear hit and killed by a car near Neosho last year, and taxidermy of a feral hog.
“We’re here to increase the knowledge base of people when it comes to mountain lions and black bears,” Haas said. “We want them to know we’re doing research on bears and trying to get a handle on populations, and we’re always getting reports of mountain lions, so we want to show people what to look for and make them aware that we have a mountain lion response team.”
The booth attracted many visitors throughout the day, he said, because it was so visual and visitors could touch the items.
But one group of students from a class in soils and crop science at Crowder College sought Haas out because they were interested in his career.
“I want to work for the department someday and so I was asking him what kind of degree I would need and what kind of jobs they have,” said Jamie Gundel, a wildlife conservation major from McDonald County.
Seven students from the Life Skills class at Monett High School attended with their teacher, Angela Johnson, and found several booths that interested them.
“They’re very excited to see things in a hands-on way,” Johnson said of her students. “We practiced looking at the schedule and deciding what we wanted to see, working on time management and how to get around.”
Shaleah McCully, a senior, said she especially liked the greenhouse. “I like flowers, but I don’t know how to do much yet,” she said.
“That’s why we’re here,” Johnson told her with a smile. “So you can learn.”
Lamar resident Margaret Compton showed off a new type of irrigation system to a group of interested farmers. Called K-LINE, it outperforms traditional pivot irrigation systems, she said, because it takes far less time to set up.
“This is primarily used for irrigating pastures,” said Compton, who has a herd of livestock just west of town and is a distributor of the product. “You can divide the field up into separate areas and set it up so you can move the irrigation around the livestock instead of the other way.”
It’s a product that has drawn a lot of interest, she said, after this summer’s drought.
“I have had so many people call who are desperate to get a little water on their pastures.”
Outside in a demonstration tent, Brad Fresenburg, an assistant professor at the University of Missouri’s Division of Plant Sciences, helped a couple of dozen people navigate the intricacies of ridding their yards of aggravating moles.
“They create runways at one foot per minute. And while there may only be two or three in an average-size home lawn, they can do quite a bit of damage,” he said of the carnivorous pests.
Moles create runways in order to get at food sources — primarily earthworms. But in times of drought, those earthworms move deeper into the soil, prompting moles to choose white grubs.
This year’s mole activity was particularly bad, Fresenburg said, with moles showing up even in dormant lawns because of an outbreak of white grubs.
He recommended three methods of elimination: granular or liquid repellents, which must be applied every 30 days; baits that are shaped like worms and grubs and taste like them; and several designs of traps, which are the most economical and permanent means to rid a lawn of moles, he said.
He demonstrated for Mount Vernon residents Jim and Evelyn Barnes how one design, the Easy Set scissor trap, is set up and sprung.
“We’ve starting getting moles on our acre lot and so we’re thinking about purchasing something like that,” Evelyn Barnes said. “We come to this Field Day every year, and we always try to hit the things of specific interest to us. There’s always a lot to see and learn.”
The Southwest Research Center, four miles west of Mount Vernon, began holding the Field Day in 1962. It’s part of a network of University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources centers across the state that conducts research that benefits agricultural producers and natural resource managers.
MOUNT VERNON, Mo. —
Got moles? Want bees? Hit hard by the drought?
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