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Precision Ag Leads The Pack

Precision ag was embraced by Midwest grain farmers many years ago. As the technology was refined and expanded, farmers of other crops began to see its benefits, too.

Today, more and more cotton farmers are investing in precision ag technology and realizing cost savings and increased efficiency.

Mike Sturdivant Jr. of Glendora, Miss., who is featured in the cover story titled “Precision Ag Payoff” on page 20, says, “I think the Midwest got a head start on us and laid the groundwork in precision ag, but we are catching up, especially in making variable rate applications and using GPS.”

His advice to other farmers regarding precision ag?

“Go look at the available equipment and take it slow, but do something,” Sturdivant says.

Based on our Web Poll results from February, a good percentage of other cotton producers across the Belt agree with him. In fact, 39 percent say precision ag has the most potential (compared to the other choices) to lower their costs.

Using more efficient equipment pulled 26 percent of the vote, followed closely by crop rotation at 24 percent. Seven percent of the respondents say land leveling for more efficient water use may lower costs for them, and four percent feel that they can potentially save some bucks by renegotiating their lease agreements.

Following is a sampling of the comments that we received from readers who voted in the February Web Poll. All made some good points, and we appreciate the feedback.

• “Last year we realized that simplifying our harvest created serious savings. It was really surprising how easy it was to harvest with a Module Express. We could pick after church on Sunday with one person. We moved from field to field late in the day and started fields we normally wouldn't have. We finished picking earlier this fall as a result.”

• “Water is going to be the BIG issue as we move forward with the growing world population. Wait until you read the regulations that the new administration in D.C. has in store for us!”

• “I answered ‘more efficient equipment,’ but several of these are good answers. The only one that isn’t is ‘renegotiate leases’ because landlords are watching the markets and the local newspapers, too. I’m already hearing that some landlords are planning to ‘redo’ their leases in ’09, but I can guarantee you that it isn’t to accommodate me and my family!”

• “I chose precision ag because with the cost of inputs going up, such as they are, it will not take much to pay for this technology. Cost has always been the roadblock for precision ag here in central Texas. But with what you can save on just fertilizer alone will pay for this type of technology.”

• “Renegotiating a lease to lower share or cash will have the most immediate effect, but long-term returns will be greater with investments in precision ag equipment and software. Considering the major outlay for cotton production in both direct and fixed expenses, a reduction in rent is long overdue to any cotton farmer willing to take those considerable risks.”

As we move into the 2008 growing season, we’ll take a look at what may influence the crop mix as the subject of the April Web Poll question.

This month we are asking if the anticipated insect and/or weed pest spectrum will affect your crop mix this year and why. If you would like to make a comment, please identify the area where you farm.

Cast your vote and tell us your thoughts in the Web Poll comments section. To participate in this month’s Web Poll, go online at www.cottonfarming.com. The results of the April poll will be reported in the Cotton Farming June issue.

Web Poll Results

In February, we asked: Which of the following do you think has the most potential to lower costs for cotton farmers and why?

• Precision ag technology -- 39 %

• Using more efficient equipment -- 26 %
• Crop rotation -- 24 %
• Renegotiate lease agreement -- 4 %

• Land leveling for more efficient water use -- 7 %

April Web Poll Question

Will the anticipated insect and/or weed pest spectrum affect your crop mix this year and why? Identify your area when you submit a comment.

(1) Yes
(2) No

Register your vote at www.cottonfarming.com.

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