Farmers across the country annually travel to Louisville in February for the National Farm Machinery Show. The Feb. 13-16 show offers farmers a chance to see the latest technology and determine what would work for their operations.

This event is a chance to look at new equipment, literally “kick the tires,” and examine features on a specific piece of equipment. It's also one of the best chances to compare prices, safety features and construction of similar equipment made by different vendors.

However, unless a person has a couple of days to spend at the show, it's a good idea to plan specific activities to make the most of the time there, said Sam McNeill, an agricultural engineer with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. Otherwise, it's easy to get distracted by the fresh paint, bright lights and flashy gadgets.

When planning a trip to any equipment show, farmers should study their current costs and production records or take an inventory of the items needed in their operation that will improve production or labor utilization, said Doug Overhults, University of Kentucky agricultural engineer.

Don't expect any piece of equipment to produce large savings in areas where costs are already low. Establishing priorities is the best way to avoid purchasing something that is not really needed. A little prior planning will save time and help identify vendors to visit.

McNeill, Overhults and their colleagues from the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering will be on hand to share some of the latest advances and work being done at UK.

“This year we will emphasize energy efficiency for homeowners such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, insulation and energy star ratings,” McNeill said. “For farmers we will focus on energy savings in grain drying and broiler houses and renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal, biofuels and biomass co-firing.”

Information on the 25 by ’25 initiative will also be part of the engineering display. The initiative is a national effort to get 25 percent of the country’s energy from renewable resources like wind, solar, and biofuels by the year 2025.

The UK Agricultural Weather Center and a quarter-scale tractor, designed and fabricated by UK agricultural engineering students, will also be on display. The tractor placed fourth in the 2007 ASABE Quarter-Scale Tractor Design Competition this past summer in Peoria, Ill.

UK’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering’s connection to the farm show dates back to the show’s origins. In the late 1950s, the department was part of a joint project with electric cooperatives to educate farmers and students about electricity on the farm. That led to a demonstration and exhibit for farmers at a Lexington warehouse that grew to encompass more than electricity such as tractors and equipment. It was eventually moved to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville under the direction of the state fair board and named the National Farm Machinery Show in the mid 1960s.