Drive around the back roads near Atmore, Ala., at this time of year, and you will see big fields planted in cotton and peanuts.

Keep driving and odds are pretty good you may drive right out of Escambia County, Ala., and into Escambia County, Fla., without ever realizing that you have crossed the state line.

Farmers in this area often work fields in both states. Row-crop production is big business in this area. Last year, more than 28,000 acres of cotton were grown in the two neighboring counties. Peanuts were planted in more than 30,000 acres in that same time period.

For cotton and peanut producers to run profitable operations, they have to manage closely all of their production inputs from seed to fuel.

Kim Wilkins, a row crops regional agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says agri-chemicals are the most expensive input farmers must buy.

“They use as little as they can to be effective because farmers just don’t have the money to waste,” says Wilkins.

Wilkins and her Florida Extension counterpart, Libbie Johnson, were looking for ways to help their farmers stay profitable when they came up with the idea of holding three agricultural sprayer workshops.

Johnson says it just made good sense to work together since many of the farmers have fields on both sides of the state lines. Wilkins agrees.

“In this area, we have farmers who work a lot of acres,” says Wilkins. “There is no way for them to be profitable in these crops without a lot of acreage. “

Johnson says the pair took an idea that was being used successfully in south Florida and modified it to work with their growers.