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Quail Forever Partnership Helps Profitability, Sustainability

Monty BainProducers are always looking for ways to improve their bottom line, and Cotton Incorporated invests in producer profitability as well. This year, they have teamed with Quail Forever to help cotton farmers make the most of under-producing acres by repurposing the land as quail habitat.

The program is currently available to producers in the Southeast United States with emphasis in Georgia and Alabama.

Ryan Kurtz, director of entomology in agricultural and environmental research at Cotton Incorporated, says, “Last summer, I attended the Sustainable Agronomy Conference hosted by the American Society of Agronomy and heard a presentation on turning red acres into green by using precision ag to change management practices on underperforming acres.

“I’d been interacting with the Quail Forever staff through Field to Market and wanted to get something going with cotton and quail in Georgia. It was something we needed to implement in the Cotton Belt to improve grower profitability and help reach the cotton industry’s national environmental goals.”

Precision Ag Planning’s Role

quail forever discussions

Chaz Holt, center, discusses the Quail Forever partnership with cotton farmers Bart Davis, left, and Preston Jimmerson.

With generous funding support from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Conservation Partners Program and Cotton Incorporated, Quail Forever and other industry allies unveiled the precision agriculture planning partnership earlier this year.

This new program — Precision Partnership for Working Lands — integrates agricultural economics, cutting-edge geospatial technology, and wildlife conservation to deliver profitable producer outcomes with tangible environmental benefits.

The Precision Partnership for Working Lands is specifically targeting landscapes that support bobwhite quail habitat, pollinator habitat and crop production.

“This unique partnership illustrates how industry and conservation groups can work together to achieve common goals,” says Dr. Jesse Daystar, chief sustainability officer for Cotton Incorporated. “The program echoes the sustainability goals the U.S. cotton industry has set for itself. Additionally, this project fosters bird and pollinator biodiversity in and around planted acres.”

Cotton And Quail

Quail Forever has hired Chaz Holt to serve as the new precision agriculture & conservation specialist to assist landowners and their trusted allies, such as certified crop advisers, with farming return-on-investments analyses.

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Holt says, “My role is to help achieve sustainability goals set forth by the cotton industry by addressing cotton profitability relative to soil type and health, water usage and overall input costs. Working this program in the Southeast makes so much sense because the highest geographical priority area for quail population rehabilitation in the Southeast is in the highest yielding cotton region.”

Holt is currently targeting Georgia and East Alabama, but as the project continues the territory will expand. He has a support team of wildlife biologists to help him with this project.

They work with a farm’s crop consultant or precision technology manager to initiate agronomy solutions or transfer that area into more profitability by cutting production cost and enrolling in quail habitat management strategies.

If you are a cotton producer and would like to talk with Holt about the Quail Forever program and how it might help underperforming acres on your farm, contact him at 406-425-3039 or CHolt@QuailForever.org.

Monty Bain is The Cotton Board’s regional communication manager for the Southeast. Email mbain@cottonboard.org.