Joe West, assistant dean, University of Georgia Tifton Campus, has been at this facility his entire career. A centennial celebration was held recently to mark its 100th birthday. In the “My Turn” column on page 22, he describes some of the activities that took place at the historic event and reminisces about the revolution of both agriculture and the science of agriculture.
West recalls that only 115,000 acres of cotton were grown in Georgia in 1983 due to devastation perpetrated by the boll weevil. Then the Boll Weevil Eradication Program came to Georgia in 1987. Within five years of implementation, the program was a success, West says.
“Today, there are more than 1 million acres of cotton grown here, quite a rebound for an industry almost destroyed by an invasive pest.” In addition to technology that led to the state’s huge increase in cotton acreage, he credits the know-how of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Cotton Team to bring it to fruition.West tells how the science of agriculture has evolved over 100 years, too. “It has moved from simple selection of desirable plants, basic fertility, and managing pests and pathogens to where we now use molecular markers, decode the genome of crops, apply advanced chemistries for pests, and employ precision ag technology in production and capture and process big data to make farming decisions.”
Great strides have been made in breeding technology to bring to market varieties that produce higher yields, show improved fiber quality, withstand more environmental stress, and aid in combatting cotton pests and disease. Incredible advancements in equipment technology have been achieved as well.
On page 13, for example, West Texas cotton farmer David Warren describes adding certain precision components to his planter as the equivalent of “turning a pickup truck into a Ferrari.”
And when you combine human know-how behind the scenes and in the fields with these extraordinary tools, success will surely follow. The smarts of university and industry personnel, crop consultants, retailers and the farmers themselves are instrumental in taking today’s technology and turning it into profits at the end of the season.
That changes everything in the world of cotton production.