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All eyes on potatos: Ag Expo shows off its spuds this week in Pocatello

start of ag expo

POCATELLO, Idaho - Local farmers are gearing up for this year's largest potato and ag expo in the state which begins on Tuesday.

"Everyone's shining up their machines to show their best and brightest," expo coordinator David Beale said.

Beale said this year companies are helping farmers revamp the industry, turning toward incorporating high technology into their new models for better efficiency.

"Growers from the field can send data to their farm managers, over to the co-op, or whoever they need; they can share data just right from the cloud," Beale added.

Owner of G and R Ag Products Curt Ruehl agrees using more high-tech equipment can help eliminate a lot of problems farmers face, including safety.

"A lof of stuff is going GPS as far as out in the field," Ruehl said.

Ruehl created a fertilizer loader completely encased for a safer environment.

"Now these have a closed cab and they're pressurized so that all the fertilizer dust doesn't get in their lungs and their eyes. It's a lot safer," Ruehl said.

While safety is a primary issue ag equipment producers such as Ruehl have been focused on this year, others have been concerned about the low moisture levels we have been seeing.

Aaron Savage grew up on a farm and now works to make equipment for farmers to work more efficiently.

"We're not getting enough snow so I think there is a lot of concern about the lack of water for this coming year," Savage said. "Hopefully we get a couple of wet months coming up."

Beale said the Zebra Chip disease, caused by an infection of the potato psyllid has been a big problem in Idaho since 2011. This year potato researchers and experts from the University of Idaho will be working to find ways to keep this potato disease from spreading and killing more potato crops.

On Wednesday and Thursday, U of I officials will be at the Idaho State University campus in the Pond Student Union building to discuss this issue, along with others including the diminishing water supply, with local farmers.

The expo will end on Thursday.

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