Thursday, May 30, 2024

Industry News: May 2024

Fertilization Tool Digitizes Crop Nutrient Management

A national group of scientists has released the Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool, or FRST, a decision aid providing an unbiased, science-based interpretation of soil test phosphorus and potassium values for fertilization.

The FRST project is a collaboration of more than 100 soil science and agronomic professionals representing nearly 50 universities, four divisions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, several nonprofit organizations and one private sector partner. This diverse partnership  shows the collective effort and expertise invested in the development of FRST.

The new web-based tool, available at, represents a significant advancement in soil testing for phosphorus and potassium and nutrient management. It uses data from across the United States with the potential to save farmers millions of dollars annually while reducing excess nutrient losses to the environment.

FRST provides critical phosphorus and potassium soil test values, indicating where there is no expected yield increase from phosphorus or potassium fertilizer application. In the next phase, FRST will provide research-based phosphorus or potassium rate response information to help farmers select the minimum fertilizer rate expected to produce maximum crop yield.

The current version, FRST v1.0, includes data from nearly 2,500 phosphorus and potassium trials for 21 major agricultural crops.

For more information about FRST and how it can transform nutrient management on your farm, visit and click “Tool.”

Remembering Claude Kennedy

Claude Kennedy

The Cotton Research Station at Mari-anna may bear Lon Mann’s name, but the place belonged to Claude Kennedy.

“He loved his station. It was personal for him,” said Chuck Culver, director of external relations for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

Kennedy, retired resident director of the station, passed away April 3. He was 82. The station is part of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture.

Kennedy, with his radiant smile and outstretched hands, would welcome visitors and instantly make them feel at home. More often than not, a first-time visitor would get a tour and offer of lunch, regardless of what else was on Kennedy’s calendar that day.

“Claude was a true Southern gentleman who took his job very seriously,” said Deacue Fields, vice president-agriculture, University of Arkansas System.

Nathan Slaton, assistant director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, said “Claude was more than the resident director at the Lon Mann Cotton Research Station. He loved agriculture and was the resident historian and welcoming committee for anyone who visited the station. His contributions to the Cotton Research Station will be fondly remembered, and his Southern charm and hospitality will be dearly missed.”

NCC Names Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award

Steve Verett, a former director of the National Cotton Council and current special advisor, received the Oscar Johnston Lifetime Achievement Award for 2023. Outgoing NCC Chairman Shawn Hollady presented the award.

Established in 1997, the award is named for Oscar Johnston, whose vision, genius and tireless efforts were foremost in the shaping and organization of the NCC. It is presented to an individual who serves the cotton industry, through the NCC, over a significant period of his or her active business career.

The award also recognizes those who exert a positive influence on the industry and who demonstrate character and integrity as well as perseverance and maturation during that service.

Verett, a Texas native, is a graduate of the NCC’s 1985 Cotton Leadership Program class. He remains an actively engaged member of the NCC, having served as a director. Currently, he holds the position of special advisor to the NCC’s Conservation Task Force and is a member of its Cotton Leaf Roll Dwarf Virus Working Group.

His involvement extends to his past role as a director for Cotton Council International in 1985, and he maintains his commitment as a special advisor to CCI. Verett also has been affiliated with the American Cotton Producers, where he continues to contribute as a member of the ACP’s Crop Insurance Working Group and as an advisor to its Farm Policy Task Force.

Verett accepted the role as CEO of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., in 1997, having previously served as a producer board member from Crosby County and as PCG board president in 1988 and 1989 and chairman in 1990 and 1991. He also served as chairman of the PCG Boll Weevil Steering Committee in 1992 and 1993. Verett retired in 2021 after 24 years of service to PCG and the High Plains cotton industry.

Since retirement, Verett is back on the farm operation he started with his brother Eddie in 1976, now assisting his son Kristofer. He and Kristofer farm in Crosby County where production includes cotton, corn, sorghum, summer fallow cover and forage crops.

Texan Receives Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award

Eddie Smith

Eddie Smith, a former chairman and vice chairman for the National Cotton Council received the 2023 Harry S. Baker Distinguished Service Award. The award, named for the late California industry leader and past NCC President Harry S. Baker, is presented annually to a deserving individual who has provided extraordinary service, leadership and dedication to the U.S. cotton industry.

Smith, who earned a degree in agricultural economics from Texas Tech University, began farming full-time following graduation. Today, he maintains a cotton, cattle and grain operation near Floydada, Texas, in partnership with his father, Ed, and son, Eric.

He has served as a director of Floydada Cooperative Gin and was elected to the board of directors of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association in 1984. He was unanimously elected chairman of PCCA in 2004.

Very active in the U.S. cotton industry, Smith has a long and distinguished record of leadership and service. In presenting the award, outgoing NCC Chairman Shawn Holladay said, “Mr. Smith served as chairman of the National Cotton Council in 2010. Prior to that, he served as the Council’s vice chairman and on numerous Council committees including its Environmental Task Force. He also completed the Council’s Cotton Leadership Program in 1991.”

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