‘Never Stop Looking For What’s Not There’

The Magic of Belle Isle” is a movie that explores the role of imagination as a novelist mentors — through example — a young girl who is curious about how to come up with ideas. He tells her, “Never stop looking for what’s not there,” which pairs nicely with American writer William Arthur Ward’s quote, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.” Imagination is a powerful tool.

This concept reminds me of many folks in agriculture who are credited with being able to come up with a work-around when faced with a challenge.

For example, Darrell VandeVen, who farms with his brother, Donnie, in north Louisiana, desperately wanted to keep cotton in their crop mix. But in the fall of 2019, they faced the realization that “our cost of production was too high, and the price we usually received was too low for the numbers to pencil out,” Darrell said.

After contemplating their dilemma for a while, the Louisiana farmers decided to try something radically different — planting on 60-inch rows, which was their cotton farming equivalent of a Hail Mary pass. The brothers saved money with their new game plan but also realized they would have to modify some equipment “to further reduce expenses on insecticide and herbicide applications in 2021.” So, by using the power of their imaginations, they appeared to be on the right track.

In Tennessee, cotton consultant Eric Bell said one of his farmers went to skip-row cotton to cut seed and nitrogen costs. The configuration is not for everyone, but the plan he imagined to address these challenges works on his farm.

In this issue of Cotton Farming, North Carolina cotton specialist Guy Collins said there was a lack of data to back up recommendations related to storms and defoliation. He had to keep looking for what was not there. To tackle the challenge, Collins began working on a simulated study to create hurricane force winds and try to quantify what the losses would be for both a stormproof variety and one that’s looser in the burr. In trying to imagine how to make this work, he decided to use leaf blowers and a pressure washer.

“We try to get creative sometimes in our research, and this is one of those times!” he said.

Kudos to everyone in the cotton industry for using their imaginations to solve problems and achieve goals one idea at a time.

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