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Ag’s Major Mission

Bruce Kirksey

Bruce Kirksey,

 

Agricenter International is a self-sustaining, not-for- profit organization that provides economic development and improved quality of life by facilitating agricultural research, educational programs, environmental conservation, natural area preservation and recreational opportunities. It is truly a unique place. Agricenter has about 1,000 acres and is almost surrounded by the city of Memphis. Approximately 90,000 vehicles pass by every day. We have around 300 acres dedicated to conducting research trials, and the rest is in production and grounds. We have approximately 500 acres in corn, cotton and soybean production. I have been with Agricenter International for five years. We have conducted hundreds of experiments with new varieties and technologies. With this in mind, Agricenter has an excellent opportunity to display these new and exciting technologies that are and will be available in the future. For example, we have had several variety trials planted alongside the major roads adjacent to the Agricenter, and we’ve placed plot signs in front of them.

We must find the best way to increase our production.”

I have received numerous phone calls asking what that meant, and it allowed me the opportunity to explain to the public what decisions a farmer has to make. This is also a part of Agricenter’s mission statement. We have an excellent opportunity to educate the general public about agriculture. In fact, we run about 7,000 school kids through the Agricenter every year, teaching them about plants, forestry, renewable energies and other ag-related topics. It is sad to say that a lot of our children and some parents don’t have a very good idea of where our food and fiber come from. They definitely do not understand what all a producer goes through each year. There appears to be a misconception that producers are putting way more chemical and fertilizer on their crops than they should. Again, these people do not understand what a producer does on the farm each year. The chemical and fertilizer cost money, and if one farmer puts out more than he should, that is money wasted. It was just three years ago when the world population reached seven billion. That means that in the last 120 years, the earth’s population has increased from 1.5 billion to seven billion. Experts predict that by 2050, the population on earth will reach more than nine billion people. There are probably numerous reasons for this. Life expectancy is longer, medical advances have totally reached remarkable heights, and our agricultural technologies have dramatically increased.

So what is our challenge in the agricultural community? We must find the best way to increase our production and distribution efficiently with the same amount of time and land that we have now. We live in a world now where we want to have access to all of the information that we can obtain. We can usually find an answer (it may or may not be correct) in a mere few seconds thanks to the Internet. We will need this information readily available to consumers who are curious. So education will be a key factor, especially when these new technologies come into play. This is a huge challenge when the majority of the world’s population doesn’t worry or even care where they receive their food or how it is grown. As long as they have access to a reliable food supply, they are happy. The information that agricultural scientists gather goes into the decision-making process companies make all the time. These new technologies are tested through stringent means and, for the most part, that information is available. There are all kinds of issues that seem to arise concerning food safety today. The concerns should be focused on how we reach the next level in order to feed an increasing world population.

Bruce Kirksey, Agricenter International, Memphis, TN. You can reach Bruce at  bkirksey@agricenter.org