Wisconsin Farm Technology Days (WFTD) is the largest agricultural show in the state, attracting about 40,000 people each year, showcasing advancements in agriculture, from research findings to technological developments. Many of the attendees of the three-day event — which was canceled for 2020 — show up to see or try out new equipment and technologies, and hundreds of companies bring their latest products to the show. Also among the usual exhibitors are faculty and staff from UW–Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), and the Division of Extension.
Matt Akins, an assistant scientist in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, staffed an interactive station about byproduct feeds for livestock at the 2019 WFTD show in Jefferson County. At previous shows, Akins has done education work pertaining to the costs of raising dairy heifers and the economics of heifer management, and assisted with a forage management survey. He also served as part of the 2018 WFTD Wood County Education Planning Committee.
In recognition of his efforts, Akins was named the recipient of the 2019 Donald R. Peterson Technology Transfer Award. The award recognizes outstanding educational effectiveness and impact through an interactive exhibit and/or activities at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days that engage audiences around topics such as: effectively using new management tools, processes, or concepts; incorporating new technologies into a modern farm operation; or issues that challenge contemporary agriculture and our natural resource base.
Under normal circumstances, the award would have been formally presented to Akins at the 2020 WFTD event during a meeting of the WFTD Board of Directors. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it may be presented to Akins at a future date.
In addition to his contributions at WFTD shows, much of Akins’ work for UW–Madison focuses on dairy profitability. His research, extension programs, and collaborations with county agents pertain to heifer nutrition and management, sorghum forage management, and dairy heifer growth on pasture. He has also worked on the development of a spray-on silage cover, and evaluations of alternative forages and feeding practices.
The Donald R. Peterson Wisconsin Farm Technology (Progress) Days Technology Transfer Award was established in honor of Don Peterson, UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) Professor and Associate Dean. Peterson was Chair of the Board of Directors from 1975-1993 and Executive Director of Wisconsin Farm Progress Days from 1993-1998. The award memorializes Peterson’s diligent efforts to encourage CALS faculty and staff to convey the fruits of their research and knowledge to the public through Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.