Speakers to discuss hot subjects EDITOR'S NOTE - On this and the following pages Southeast Farm Press will present brief descriptions of most subjects to be discussed at the upcoming Southeast Vegetable and Fruit Expo/AGTECH 2000 meetings to be held in Greensboro, N.C. on Dec. 11-13. For each topic we will provide a brief headline, the author's information and the outline. The list is lengthy, but if you will take a look through it we think everyone will find several topics of interest.
Biotechnology progress Arnold S. Foudin, Ph.D. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Riverdale, Md. 20737 Tel. 301-734-7710 Email: arnold.s.foudin.@usda.gov It was only a century ago that scientists rediscovered the ground breaking work of Gregor Mendel, the Austrian monk and mathematician, who 35 years earlier demonstrated that the inheritance of traits from parent to offspring follows predictable mathematical formulas.
A half century later, James Watson and Francis Crick determined the structure of DNA and deciphered the genetic code, for which they received the Nobel Prize. These two seminal events of the second millennium planted the seed and laid the groundwork for the evolution of biotechnology, which many scientists predict will be the dominant technology of the first century of the new millennium.
A rapid succession of events in the last years of the 20th century has led to today's agricultural biotechnology revolution. The production of the first transgenic plant in 1983 was followed by the first open field test in the environment under Federal regulation in 1987. The Flavr-Savr tomato, the first commercial genetically modified (the term used to designate an organism altered through genetic engineering) plant, was introduced in 1993, and the first significant commercial acreage planted to genetically modified plant varieties occurred in 1996. The commercial acreage has jumped from six million acres in 1996 to over 70 million acres in 2000.
Of the 59 different genetically engineered plants that have been field tested to date, vegetable crops make up nearly a third, led by potato at 13 per cent and tomato at nine per cent. Thirteen different genetically engineered fruits and nuts have been field tested. Strawberry, grape, apple walnut, papaya and watermelon are the leading half dozen crops in the number of field tests in this category. The first genetically modified vegetable to be field tested in the U.S. and subsequently commercialized was tomato. Of the 51 petitions to de-regulate a genetically modified plant that have been approved by USDA, 22 (43 per cent) have been vegetables or fruits. The vegetable/fruit crop with the greatest number of USDA approved genetically modified constructs is tomato with eleven, followed by potato, squash, beet, papaya, and chicory. A variety of genetic constructs have been approved, including viral disease resistance, insect resistance, herbicide resistance, male sterility, and color.
So what's in the future for genetically modified plants, and fruits and vegetables in particular? We predict that in the next five years, genetic engineering will move to the incorporation of consumer value-added traits, such as improved nutritional content and health-related characteristics, such as improved lipid composition. Other research and development areas that will see increased activity in the next decade or two are the so-called nutriceuticals, pharm and functional food traits, i.e., plants genetically modified to produce improved amino acid content, pharmaceuticals (phytohormones), vaccine-like compounds, and anti-cancer substances for human health applications.
Using technology Chad Docsh Technology Specialist McLawhorn Crop Services, Inc. Cove City, N.C. 28523 Tel. 252-637-6760 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org McLawhorn Crop Services is an independent agricultural consulting company that has been in business since 1982 in the east central Coastal Plains of North Carolina. Our focus is on farm wide crop and nutrient management systems on a number of crops with the most important ones being tobacco and cotton. Being in the Neuse River Basin, our landscape is typified by small fields with high environmental concerns on a wide array of soil types. With fields ranging from less than one acre to about 100 acres and averaging less than 10 acres we have struggled to make some of the most commonly used tools of "precision ag" fit our systems.
With very few yield monitors in the area we have a lack of digitized yield information making it difficult to make grid sampling and variable rate fertilizer applications consistently profitable. The key is to selectively a grid sample only larger field when there is crop variability that could be related to soil fertility or pH. With lime applications we discovered that sometimes we could "flag" off areas so a conventional spreader could do as good a job as a variable rate spreader.
Grid sampling does have several benefits; it allows us to target in-season problems observed, it increases a growers understanding of soil test results by way of visual representations, sometimes it reduces cost by site specific fertilizer and lime inputs, and allows the correlation between soil test results and soil type to be analyzed by over-laying the data onto digitized soil series maps. We ultimately produce easy to read, color coded maps that are useful and have real value for our growers such as, lime, soil series, micro-nutrient and, when available, yield maps.
There is also much utility in mapping field borders to show acreage, water control structures, hydrants, hog/poultry houses, wells and other permanent structures, all to scale. These maps are invaluable to a grower for record keeping on inputs, planting conditions, applications, and harvest.
Having a digitized soil survey over-lay can help a grower do a more responsible job of nitrogen management. He can also accurately measure on a map to help with calibration and can detect a miscalculation quickly. With accurate equipment the acres from a GPS mapped farm should be accepted by FSA, insurance companies, and other agencies. If a grower has been managing fertility annually, keeping accurate records and has a large number of small fields, he is less likely to need GPS grid sampling and more likely to benefit from GPS maps.
Sweet potatoes on the Web Monroe Enzor Enzor Farms Fair Bluff, N.C. 28439 Tel. 910-649-7197 Email: email@example.com Looking for an unusual, inexpensive gift for friends or family? Need something different to make your fund-raiser a success? Enzor Farms has the answer, Sweet Potatoes! Sweet Potatoes are so healthy they are being referred to as the "new chic food." Delicious, nutritious, and versatile, they can be enjoyed in soup and salads, desserts and candies. Now you are probably saying this sounds great, but you don't have the time to come by the farm and pick up your order. No need to worry, we can send your gifts straight from our farm to your friends and family.
Unfortunately, we as North Carolinians take for granted some of the simple pleasures that people in other parts of the country have no access to. Thus, an idea was born. If you can't come to the farm, we will bring the farm to you. Simply turn on your computer, type in our web address and zap, you are in our virtual country store. Now you can browse through our selection of products, make your selections, pay for your order, request additional information, all without ever leaving the comfort of your home.
All this is made possible by the Internet. When most of us think of .com companies, we think of clothes, CDs, or books, certainly not farmers. As a result of an ever-changing world, we, as farmers must be ready to take advantage of opportunities to expand our markets. The Internet has made it possible to put sweet potatoes and other commodities in every home, virtually of course. Just place an order and we will send you the real thing.
Food service George Wooten Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co. Chadbourn, N.C. 28431 Tel. 910-654-5163 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co.'s George Wooten sees a sweet potato on a plate in a restaurant as a successful promotion that leads to more sweet potato sales in the produce aisle. "Food service is really like a taste-test," says Wooten, owner of the company. "If consumers like the sweet potato in the restaurant, they are likely to buy some to cook at home. For Wooten - the third generation of the family-owned Chadbourn, N.C. business started in 1935 - innovation has gone hand-in-hand with a tradition of quality. And while the company is a leading innovator in packing and shipping, it has set its sights on helping its customers effectively market sweet potatoes. In 1985, Bailey Produce became the first packing line in the country to separate medium and large Number One sweet potatoes. Five years later in 1990, the company was the first to introduce electronically sizing to the sweet potato industry, Wooten says. And so it follows today that the company continues to offer a wide variety of choices to restaurant and institutional suppliers. Food service buyers today can purchase cartons ranging from the jumbo 25 to 30 count for institutional use to 30 to 35 count for steakhouses to as many as 110 per box for those who use smaller sweet potatoes.
The ability to deliver quality in specific sizes has helped this company to gain an edge in food service, also resulting in greater retail sales. One of the first companies to effectively partner with other growers to ship sweet potatoes year round, Wayne E. Bailey Produce now sells from an estimated 1.5 million bushels of storage, including controlled atmosphere facilities with a total capacity of 700,000 bushels.
In this workshop, we will show you the importance of the food service industry and how to increase food service and retail sizes using some innovative new methods of marketing and customer service.
Tomato advancements Randy Gardner Professor, Horticultural Science Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center North Carolina State University Fletcher, N.C. 28732 Tel. 828-684-3562 Email: email@example.com\f1\fs18 Pruning tomato plants increases earliness of maturity, provides larger fruit, and generally increases quality of the crown set fruit. However, the optimum level of pruning for a particular variety is dependent on the growth characteristics of the variety and the in-row plant spacing. Concentrated-set varieties such as `Mountain Spring', `Floralina' and `Plum Dandy' often form the first and second flower clusters close together resulting in the main stem topping out at the second cluster. It is important to leave two suckers below the first flower cluster with these varieties so that the plant has two main growing stems. For vigorous, mid to late season varieties such as `Mountain Fresh', `Mountain Supreme' and `Sun Leaper', only one sucker needs to be left below the first flower cluster. This heavy pruning will give the maximum fruit size for these varieties.
Pruning is generally done at the time when the flowers are opening on the first cluster. For crops being produced for the normal growing season with plants grown in one to two-inch cells, the length of time from planting to the field to pruning should be around three weeks. This time period is important to allow the plant to develop sufficient top and root growth so that the plant is not stunted by early set fruit. Suckers should be removed when small. Delayed pruning, with suckers eight to 12-inches long or greater results in undesirable open plant growth and more curling of foliage.
Soil fertility, particularly nitrogen level, should be managed to provide an optimum balance between vegetative growth and fruit set. Too much nitrogen, particularly in early season, results in rank growth with delayed maturity and smaller fruit with poor quality. Later flowering and later maturing varieties such as `Mountain Fresh' and `Mountain Supreme' are more prone to this problem. Lack of sufficient fertility with concentrated set varieties, such as `Mountain Spring' and `Floralina' can result in limited plant growth with reduced yields and fruit quality. Each variety differs in its cultural needs and experience is needed to make a variety produce to its greatest genetic potential.
Soilborne diseases Dr. Frank Louws Assistant Professor Department of Plant Pathology North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-6689 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Important soilborne pathogens that affect tomato include Fusarium wilt (especially Race 3), Verticillium wilt (especially Race 2), Phytophthora crown rot, Pythium root rot, southern bacterial wilt, and nematodes. Methyl bromide (MB) has been used extensively as a fumigant to limit losses due to these pathogens.
However, with the pending loss of MB as a soil fumigant, alternative disease management strategies need to be developed and/or evaluated. This presentation will highlight the soilborne pathogens, review currently available management options, and discuss future prospects for disease control.
During the last few years, we have assembled an interdisciplinary team of researchers, Extension specialists, field agents, commodity organizations, grower clientele and other stakeholders. This coalition of stakeholders has a multiple-commodity focus to enhance farm profitability during this transition phase of losing methyl bromide. Stakeholders, particularly the strawberry and vegetable organizations ($2k to $4k/yr), have identified and funded MB alternative research as a priority issue. Numerous trials on alternative strategies have led to the development of an infrastructure and combined public/private expertise to address this critical issue, enabling effective stakeholder exchange for planning, implementation and evaluation. Growers are well aware that the loss of methyl bromide will result in production adjustments. Many growers are acutely sensitized to this because this potential loss of farm income is concurrent with substantial decline in tobacco quota allotments and decline in traditional commodity prices.
Chemical based alternatives include the use of chloropicrin, metam sodium (Vapam, Sectagon), Telone, and possibly methyl iodide, or combinations of chemicals (e.g. Telone + chloropicrin). Each alternative has strengths and weaknesses when compared to MB. These strengths and weaknesses need to be fine-tuned to maximize disease control and minimize costs and environmental and worker-safety impacts. Growers and research personnel have also initiated much work on non-chemical based alternatives such as the use of solarization or use of cover crops and compost, with success. Again, these biological-based systems have strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed on a farm-by-farm basis. Numerous field trials have been conducted and more are planned in the coming year to develop both short-term and long-term management strategies for soilborne diseases. NCSU along with surrounding cooperating states will hire a full-time coordinator for a two-year period to focus on MB alternative research and extension issues. Telone C-35 and metam sodium + chloropicrin, are potentially parts of the replacement strategy. We have successfully evaluated these products on two farm trials and three research station tests during the last two years. Limited weed efficacy and the differing pest complexes in the three ecological zones (Coastal, Piedmont, Mountains) of the SEUS complicate development of recommendations. For example, chloropicrin alone may be the product of choice in the mountain production regions due to Verticillium Race 2 pressure whereas a combination treatment, may be needed in the other regions.
Weed control presents a particular challenge for vegetable producers.
Specialty crops program Jeanine M. Davis Associate Professor & Extension Specialist Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center North Carolina State University Fletcher, N.C. 28732 Tel. 828-684-3562 Email: email@example.com The Specialty Crops Program (SCP) was initiated in 1997 to develop new commodities for eastern North Carolina, which was hard hit by natural disasters and the reduction in tobacco quotas. The program is led by an inter-agency team composed of Jeanine Davis, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Horticultural Science, N.C. State University (NCSA); Bill Jester, Area Agent, Commercial Fruits and Vegetables, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service (NCCES); and Nick Augostini, Marketing Specialist, Eastern Marketing Center, N.C. Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS). The program is headquartered at the Cunningham Research Station in Kinston where two technicians are housed and there is a 5,000 square foot greenhouse and access to over 250 irrigated acres for research.
The SCP team solicits project ideas and proposals from extension personnel, researchers, and industry. Once a project is accepted, the technicians work closely with the researchers to ensure the success of the field and greenhouse studies. Product from those studies is used for marketing efforts led by the marketing specialist. These include promotional events, taste tests, and test-market sales. If the crop shows potential, the area agent initiates on-farm production with local growers with marketing coordinated by the marketing specialist. If this stage is successful, an intensive grower education and participation program is launched using meetings, leaflets, and the website. The marketing specialist continues to help the new growers sell their crops until they are well established.
Successes of the SCP include formation of the Southeastern Growers Association and shipping under the "Carolina Specialties" label. The first crop developed through the program is the seedless red watermelon, which is now grown on commercial acres and marketed through major supermarket chains. This year there were commercial test acreages of a special oriental melon, which were successfully marketed through several supermarkets. A new white peach, called China Pearl, was well accepted in the test market studies. Other crops being studied include off-season blueberries and strawberries, blackberries, seedless yellow and orange watermelons, and pyrethrum.
Watermelon disease control Anthony Keinath and Gerald Holmes Research & Extension Vegetable Pathologists Clemson and North Carolina State University Charleston, S.C. 29414 Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 843-776-3761, 919-515-9779 Depending on the location and the weather in a given year, gummy stem blight, anthracnose, and, recently, powdery mildew, are the most important foliar diseases on watermelon across the Southeastern United States. Gummy stem blight and anthracnose are favored by wet and humid conditions, but powdery mildew is favored by dry or humid, but not wet, conditions. Currently, alternating chlorothalonil with azoxystrobin (Quadris) is the most effective fungicide program to manage all three diseases.
In a recent field trial, Quadris, rotated with either chlorothalonil (Bravo) or copper hydroxide (Kocide), was more effective at reducing powdery mildew than either Bravo or Kocide alone. Recently, two more fungicides were registered for powdery mildew control on watermelon: trifloxystrobin and myclobutanil. Trifloxystrobin (Flint) is chemically related to Quadris, but myclobutanil (Nova), previously registered on fruit crops, is a different type of chemical. Quadris and Flint will move from the top to the bottom of the leaf, and Nova moves within the plant, attributes that are very important for controlling a disease like powdery mildew that occurs on both leaf surfaces. All three fungicides must be rotated with unrelated materials to prevent powdery mildew and other pathogens from becoming resistant to these fungicides.
In an on-going field trial, combinations of several new fungicides are being tested for control of gummy stem blight. Preliminary results indicate that combinations of tebuconazole with Quadris, Bravo, or BAS 500 were more effective than other combinations, Bravo alone, or Kocide alone. End-of-the-season data will be presented. BAS 500 also was the best fungicide to control anthracnose on watermelon. It was more effective than Bravo, Quadris, mancozeb (Penncozeb), or Flint.
The melon disease forecaster Melcast, developed at Purdue University, was made available to melon growers in South Carolina in 2000 as a way to more accurately schedule fungicide applications. Daily predictions were available through a toll-free number (1-877-SCMELON) or on the Internet (www.clemson.edu/scmelon). Growers who used Melcast the entire season made, on average, two less fungicide sprays than they would have with their conventional schedule. Melcast can be used successfully to manage gummy stem blight and anthracnose. Whether fungicides applied according to Melcast predictions can prevent powdery mildew on watermelon has not yet been tested.
Melon nutrient management Gilbert Miller Bamberg County Extension Agent Clemson University Bamberg, S.C. 29003 Tel. 803-245-2661 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org A large percentage of the melons grown in the Southeast are irrigated with drip irrigation. Drip irrigation has many benefits, which are becoming more significant in today's environmentally conscious world. With most of the soils in the Southeast and particularly our very leachable sandy soils, a best managed drip irrigation system may need to be turned on several times during the day for short periods of time. It is important to apply irrigation according to the crop needs, soil conditions and system capabilities to reduce the chance of over or under-watering and leaching of nutrients.
The challenge many of our melon growers, who use drip irrigation and fertigation now face, is the daily application of nutrients and water. Growers want to keep the water and nutrients in the root zone of the melon plant which, when grown on plastic, is mostly in the top 12 inches of soil. It doesn't take long for water, and the nutrients it's carrying, to leach down below the root zone in sandy soils. Through drip irrigation you can precisely time the amount of water and nutrients provided to the plant during the different growth stages.
The water and nutrient needs of the plant will vary significantly during its growth and development. Obviously, a newly transplanted melon plant will need some but not a lot of water and nutrients. As its foliar growth continues, water and nutrient needs increase, climaxing with sizeable needs during fruit development.
How long can you run your drip system before water and nutrients are leached below the root zone? How many cycles during a day do you need to run the drip system to supply the water needed for your melon crop? What are the different amounts of nutrients needed for the different growth stages of melon crops? How often should a grower inject nutrients through the drip system? A grower needs to have good answers to these questions to employ a good nutrient and water management program for their melons. Using information generated from a three-year research project on water and nutrient management with melons, I hope to be able to help growers better understand answers to these questions.
Pepper insect control Dr. Kenneth A. Sorensen Professor & Extension Entomologist North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-1662 Email: email@example.com Peppers are attacked by several insects that feed on the foliage, attack the fruit or vector plant diseases. Insects that feed externally on plants include caterpillars (corn earworm, beet armyworm, tobacco hornworm), and beetles (flea beetle and pepper weevil). Other insects bore into the fruit and include pepper maggot, pepper weevil, corn earworm, fall armyworm and European corn borer. While yet other insects vector plant diseases and include green peach aphid, thrips and whiteflies. Plant viruses vectored by insects include mosaic, western spotted wilt and several gemini viruses.
Insect identification aides exists and include Vegetable Insect Manual, Know Pepper Pests poster and Pepper Insect Management power point sheet. Insect detection and monitoring consists of using black-light insect traps for moths, yellow sticky cards for aphids, thrips, maggot flies and white flies and sex pheromone traps for armyworms, corn earworms and European corn borer. These identification and trapping resources will be explained and demonstrated. Timing insecticide applications varies from field to field and season to season, thus the need for a trapping and scouting program. Coverage with insecticides is improved with the use of high-pressure sprayers with positioned drop nozzles or with air blast sprayers. New insecticides include Admire for aphids and whiteflies, spintor for thrips and worms, Baythroid for worms, Avaunt for worms and other reduced risk insecticides. Action thresholds exist and consist of 25 moths over a five-day period or the presence of eggs and small larvae. These usually mean sprays every three to five days in July and August. Insects demand attention from plant production through harvest to help ensure insect and disease free pepper.
Phytophthora crown rot Dr. Frank Louws Assistant Professor Department of Plant Pathology North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-6689 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phytophthora crown and root rot of peppers has become a serious problem in the major pepper production areas of North Carolina, including the Coastal and Mountain regions. This problem is not unique to North Carolina, but occurs throughout much of the country where peppers are grown.
The disease usually starts in low, poorly drained areas of the field especially after excessive rains. The pathogen can be dispersed in soil, with surface water following drainage patterns, and via splash dispersal from soil to foliage. During conditions of heavy wind and rain, the pathogen can be distributed over entire fields and cause extensive losses within a few days.
A total disease management plan needs to be developed for every farm with an emphasis on water management. Low lying or poorly drained areas need to be corrected, peppers need to be on raised beds or ridges, crop rotations should be included where practical (largest losses occur when peppers follow cucumbers or other cucurbit crop), and well-timed applications of registered and efficacious fungicides may need to be applied.
Ridomil Gold is effective when applied according to the label but on many farms, there is evidence that portions of the population of the pathogen that causes the disease has become insensitive to Ridomil Gold, possibly reducing the efficacy of this product. We have initiated a multi-site and multi-test program to look at cultural practices, alternative and new fungicides, and genetic resistance to better manage this disease. The most promising advances in managing Phytophthora crown and root rot of peppers has occurred in our regional trials testing resistant varieties.
Our goal has been to make North Carolina one of the sites where seed companies and plant breeders bring their material for evaluation. This project occurs through the cooperation among pepper growers, Extension agents, the North Carolina State University programs, and the seed companies/pepper breeders. Numerous cultivars and lines have been evaluated and some show good promise for our industry needs. This data will be reported in the presentation. Some have good resistance and acceptable marketable qualities. These cultivars have been evaluated by growers and should be evaluated on more farms. However, more work is needed to enhance the horticulture qualities of several other cultivars/lines. Through continued cooperative efforts among interested parties, disease resistant lines should be an important component of managing this serious disease problem.
Quality assurance James W. Rushing, Professor Clemson University, Coastal Research and Education Center Charleston, S.C. 29414 Tel. 843-766-3761 Email: email@example.com Quality is the degree of excellence or superiority. In the fresh fruit and vegetable business, quality translates directly into profit. Quality control (QC) is the process of maintaining acceptable quality all the way to the consumer. Quality assurance (QA) is the system that has the purpose of ensuring that QC is being done effectively. An effective QA program for fresh fruits and vegetables must begin in the field with selection of the appropriate variety and harvesting at the proper time, proceeding through all steps in post harvest handling to the point of consumption. Every person involved in the produce industry has some responsibility for QA.
Each post-harvest handling step has the potential to either maintain or reduce quality. In only a few cases, such as fruit ripening, can a post harvest practice improve eating quality. Once quality deterioration has occurred, it cannot be regained. Thus managers of handling operations must be diligent in the application of QA at all times, focusing on the implementation of post harvest practices that extend the life of the product by reducing decay and physiological deterioration.
The three primary causes of post harvest losses are rough handling of the product, poor temperature management, and ineffective sanitation practices. Practical aspects of these management concerns are addressed with specific examples of practices that managers often fail to supervise properly. Food safety is an integral part of the QA program. For consumers, safety of produce is an entitlement that handlers are obligated to provide. Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) will be reviewed.
Legislation Craig Stokes, Attorney Oppenheimer, Blend, Harrison & Tate San Antonio, Texas 78205 Tel. 210-224-2000 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, commonly known by its acronym PACA, is federal law which governs nearly all transactions in fresh and frozen fruits or vegetables which are shipped or will be shipped across state lines. Growers should review their written sales contracts very carefully to verify that these rights and others have not been unintentionally waived. PACA offers many protections to the grower/seller, unless these protections have been waived, including:
(1.) If the products are sold on a fixed price basis, normally the buyer cannot demand a price reduction for quality, market decline or other reasons unless a USDA inspection certificate is obtained in a timely manner. This certificate must show that the product has a certain minimum percentage of quality defects. Similarly, a party receiving the product on commission cannot grant price adjustments to its customers unless a timely inspection certificate is obtained. Without the timely issued certificate, the commission merchant is liable to the grower for the price adjustment granted.
(2.) Receivers of produce have fixed periods under PACA during which they may completely reject a delivery of product. If the product is not rejected within that period, or if the product is unloaded or diverted, the product is considered automatically accepted.
PACA has an additional protection for produce sellers, which is not automatic. If a seller preserves his rights under the PACA trust and its receiver becomes insolvent, responsibly connected persons, such as major officers and shareholders of the receiver can also be personally liability for the payment of the debt owed to the grower by the receiver. It does not matter that the receiver of the produce is a corporation. In many jurisdictions if the seller has preserved its rights under the PACA trust against its insolvent receiver, it is possible to obtain a court order which freezes certain assets while the claim is pending before the court. A seller preserves its rights under the PACA trust by:
(1.) Sending a document called a Trust Notice to his seller within 30 days of the end of the period during which the receiver is required to pay, or,
(2.) By obtaining a PACA license from USDA and then including a special legend in its invoices as required by federal regulations.
However, if the written payment period agreed to between the seller and the receiver is more than 30 days or if the seller elects to send out a trust notice and does not deliver that notice within 30 days of the end of the payment period, these additional protections are automatically lost. Sellers who take advantage of the PACA trust obtain a priority status in front of many other creditors of the insolvent produce receiver.
New cucumber fungicides Gerald J. Holmes Extension Plant Pathologist North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-9779 Email: email@example.com In recent years, three new fungicides have been registered for use on cucurbits. These include Quadris (azoxystrobin), Flint (trifloxystrobin) and Nova (myclobutanil). It is important to know how effective these products are against important cucumber diseases (e.g., anthracnose, gummy stem blight, belly rot). I will present efficacy data for these products so that growers can make informed decisions on what to use, how to use it, and why.
No-till cucumbers Jonathan Schultheis, David Monks, DeannaDepartments of Horticultural Science, Soil Science, and Plant Pathology North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-1225 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org \f2 Conservation-tillage systems were evaluated for their potential to grow pickling cucumbers. Weed control and nitrogen tillage experiments were conducted in the 1998, 1999, and 2000 growing seasons. No, strip and conventional tillage systems were evaluated at five nitrogen levels (0, 40, 80, 120 and 160 pounds of nitrogen per acre) for their effects on pickling cucumber yields, fruit quality and incidence of belly rot. Weed control can often be difficult when growing cucumbers due to the limited number of weed control options. Four weed control treatments 1. Curbit + Alanap (pre), Alanap (post), 2. Curbit + Command (pre), Alanap (post), 3. Curbit + Command (pre), Permit (post), and 4) a weedy check were evaluated in the three tillage systems mentioned above. For example, in 1997, yield was generally comparable using each of the different herbicide combinations. Yields tended to be less when pickling cucumbers were grown using no tillage versus conventional or strip tillage, regardless of weed control treatment.
Marketable and total yields were significantly affected by nitrogen treatment. In 1997, yields were similar when 40 or more pounds of nitrogen was applied on a per acre basis. Unlike the weed control test, no differences in yield in the nitrogen test were attributed to tillage treatment. Best yields in 2000 nitrogen tillage test were obtained with conventional tillage and were over two fold greater than when no tillage was used. The best nitrogen rates were obtained when 120 or 160 pounds of nitrogen was applied per acre. These and other results will be discussed including the incidence of belly rot under various nitrogen and tillage regimes.
superscript *For information on the other presenters, please contact Dr. Schultheis at the above numbers.
Cucumber insects Dr. Kenneth A. Sorensen Professor & Extension Entomologist North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-1662 Email: email@example.com Cucumber growers are troubled from several insect pests. The important insect pests include cucumber beetle, seed corn maggot, aphids, leafminers, mites and pickleworm. Maggots and beetles attack seedlings and small plants, thus they reduce plant stands. Striped and spotted cucumber beetles also attack large plants and flowers where they consume foliage and vector bacterial or cucumber mosaic. Leafminers and mites are secondary pests they attack the foliage following hot, dry weather and after overuse of certain carbamate and pyrethroid insecticides. Aphids also deform small plants and vector plant viruses. Thrips and whiteflies are two new pests that attack cucumbers and spread diseases, but they are usually not a problem to date. Pickleworm is the major threat to cucumbers grown for processing.
Insect identification, monitoring and detection, application of insecticides and IPM tactics are needed to avoid or minimize insect damage. The vegetable insect manual and colored poster or a Know Cucumber Pests poster depict insect stages, damage and control strategies. These will be discussed and made available. Insects can be monitored using yellow sticky traps or cups, cucumber beetle attractants and pickleworm sex pheromone traps. These will be shown and their application explained. Insecticides of the future include Admire for aphids and beetles, Spintor for thrips, leafminers and worms, Capture for worms, Agrimek for leafminers and mites and Avaunt for worms. Other management activities for the future include cucumber beetle attractants and pickleworm sex pheromone. Results of trials on trapping for these insects will be presented. Plans for a regional pickleworm-forecasting network will be announced.
Greenhouse tomatoes Carl E. Niedziela Jr. and Jimmy L. Mullins Virginia State University Petersburg, Va. 23806 Tel. 804-524-6963, 804-524-5840 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Greenhouse tomatoes are a high value crop with potential for profit in the 21st Century. Most people wait all winter long for a fully red, vine-ripened tomato. And many are willing to pay a little extra to have this treat a few months early. This trend should continue into the next century. However, there will be many new opportunities and challenges in the new century.
Soil-less or hydroponic production systems have been developed to grow high-yielding, good-tasting tomatoes. These systems will continue to be refined and new systems will be developed in the future.
Computers are being used in many greenhouse operations today. However, in the future, computers will be more than devices to type business letters and balance the books. The environments in most greenhouses will be monitored and controlled by computers. This new technology will allow growers to maintain optimum temperature; humidity; and carbon dioxide, nutrient and water levels for maximum production of high quality fruit.
These high-tech environmental controls will be part of integrated pest control systems in which cultural practices, beneficial organisms, and low toxicity pesticides will be utilized. Research is finding more ways to optimize the health of beneficials while decreasing the survival of pests.
Rising energy costs will continue to be a challenge in the future. Alternative energy sources and conservation equipment will be utilized.
Marketing will be both a challenge and an opportunity. Growers who adapt to a new world economy with changing demographics will be successful.
The greenhouse tomato industry is at the threshold of a new frontier. Successful growers will adopt new technology beneficial to their operation and discard outdated and ineffective technology.
Greenhouse alternatives Mary M. Peet and J.F. Miles Professor, Department of Horticultural Science North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-5362 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Although Americans are consuming many more greenhouse tomatoes than was the case a few years ago, worldwide production of greenhouse tomatoes has also increased dramatically. Many of the greenhouse tomatoes you see in local supermarkets were grown in Canada, Holland, or Mexico. Large greenhouse operations in the U.S., such as Village Farms in Virginia, also send tomatoes to North Carolina markets. Growers with small greenhouses may find they can't market their tomatoes to supermarkets at high enough prices to cover their cost of production. Thus, interest has increased in niche markets, such as organics, and in other greenhouse crops, such as peppers, cucumbers, herbs and lettuce. All these are possible options in terms of production practices, but growers are well advised to ascertain first that they can market sufficient quantities of these crops at a sufficiently high price to make the enterprise economical. It may be possible to grow a mix of crops that will open up additional markets. Additional concerns with organic greenhouse tomatoes are the necessity for certification, and special considerations in production. Advantages and disadvantages of these of all these cropping alternatives will be discussed briefly.
New greenhouse products Dr. Frank Louws Assistant Professor Department of Plant Pathology North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-6689 Email: email@example.com Greenhouses offer a unique challenge to producers in terms of plant disease incidence. The primary disease and disorder problems encountered in North Carolina include pollution injury, Botrytis gray mold, powdery mildew and (Cladosporium) leaf mold. Up to 50 percent of samples can be attributed to non-biological causes such as pollution injury or some other type of physical/chemical injury. These problems need to be corrected if they are on-going. Pollution-related plant disorders are associated with malfunctions in the heating system or due to poor design of the heating system. Incomplete combustion of fuel results in the accumulation of ethylene or other gases (e.g. propane) and this will result in flower abortion or damage to young leaves, respectively. Incomplete combustion and gas toxicity often occurs during the winter months.
North Carolina State University (NCSU) has a program through the Plant Disease/Insect Clinic to test for pollution levels where problems are suspected (contact the local Cooperative Extension Service office or call 919-515-3619).
The primary methods to limit disease problems are through prevention, sanitation, and management of the environmental conditions. Among preventative practices, limit visitors to the greenhouse and have a footbath to sterilize footwear prior to entering the house. If practical, build a double entry to limit movement of pathogens and insects from the outside to the inside. Sanitation includes removal of all diseased, dead and dying tissue and insuring no crop debris is in or near the greenhouse. Management of environmental conditions includes maintenance of a constant airflow throughout the crop canopy and attempting to limit conditions of relative humidity and temperatures that favor disease development.
There are few biological control methods and chemical applications registered or useful to manage disease. Chemical options include the use of Exotherm termil, mancozeb or maneb as outlined in the North Carolina Chemical manual. For lower stem cankers due to Botrytis, growers may want to consider applying Botran 75W on the lower 24 inches of the plant immediately after pruning to protect the wound sites (and according to the Botran label). Currently, few growers rely on fungicides as a sole method for disease management. New products are emerging and have included greenhouse vegetables on the label. In many cases, such products have not been independently tested for their efficacy. In other cases, several new products, including biologicals, hold promise for disease management in the greenhouse. Several of these products will be highlighted in the presentation.
California strawberries Tim Driscoll Bloomfield Farms Capitola, Calif. 95010 Tel. 831-477-1135 Email: POIT2B@aol.com\b The key to sustainability in any crop, is not what we do, but what we see. The observation of our environment, and the consistent monitoring of it, will dictate our levels of success. Our ability to adopt appropriate practices that work in concert with that environment, is the new way of farming. We must become students of nature. We must invent new tools and new practices, as well as take from the past, in order to be effective.
The dictionary says that sustain means to support, hold or bear up from below, and while the basic framework for farming is generally the same, the main difference is, instead of growing a plant we grow our ground, "support from below." The nutrition that we apply is more for the soil than the plant. The timing for nutrition building and pest controls is much farther in advance.
We must be more patient, and plan much farther in advance, than ever before. We must learn to use and enhance the processes of nature.
Strawberries are uniquely suited to this system of growing because of their perennial nature. The ability to build a long-term biological habitat, that literally houses the beneficial pests that protect your crop, is much easier.
The physiological response to natural inputs is much different. The new uses of technology that work in tandem with nature are a whole new field unto itself. I will take you from ground zero to production thousands, and give you a glimpse of the cycle of sustainable strawberry growing in California, and how you can use some of these strategies in your own fields.
I will also touch on some of the regulations that we face in California and how those compare to the Federal Standards, and finally, some of the long-term benefits of a new, yet old system of farming.
Thinning strawberries Charlie O'Dell and Jerry Williams Associate Professors Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Va. 24061 Tel. 540-231-6722, 540-231-5655 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Plastic mulched hill system strawberry plots of Chandler and Late Star were carried over for second year harvests at Virginia Tech's Kentland Research Farm, elevation 2,400 feet near Blacksburg in southwest Virginia following the 1999 spring harvest. A second experiment was selected for carry-over for third year harvest following second year production of Late Star, an eastern variety. A common problem observed in carry-over of plantings, where diseases are not found, has been smaller average berry size the following year, especially on secondary and tertiary bloom clusters of the older crowns. Immediately after last harvest in both experiments, plants were mowed to remove most foliage one inch above the crowns.
Mechanical crown thinning was done by hand with asparagus knives to remove approximately one-half the total crown of marked plants in randomized, replicated plots.
In a third experiment, after mowing of foliage, chemical crown thinning of Chandler strawberries was done with a shielded sprayer using Gramoxone to chemically kill the outside one-half (approximately) of each crown in each double row on the raised beds.
In all three tests, no significant difference in fruit size or total yields were obtained the following spring from crown thinning. Evidently in plastic mulched hill system culture where plant competition is minimal for light, nutrients and moisture, fruit size primarily is determined genetically, with secondary effects of plant vigor and crown age.
Third year fruit was smaller than second year fruit. Under our conditions, crown thinning did not improve fruit size of the following year's crop. Late Star was especially prone to smaller fruit in all carry-over plots, averaging less than seven grams per berry on second year carry-over crops and less than six grams per berry on third year crops. Second year Chandler berries averaged 11 grams per berry, very acceptable for U-Picks, but unacceptable for wholesale competition. Due to small average berry size, extreme susceptibility to fruit Anthracnose and poor, bland flavor, especially in cool, wet spring months, Late Star has been dropped from Virginia plantings and recommendations.
The Chandler variety has increased in acreage in Virginia again in the fall of 2000. Two research station plantings, one at our Virginia Eastern Shore AREC and one in the southwest mountains near Blacksburg at Kentland Research Farm, were made in early Sept. 2000 comparing side by side plantings of Chandler to the newer Gaviota variety, plus nine on-farm grower observational plantings of Gaviota vs Chandler were made in fall of 2000. Special Thanks is extended to Dr. Barclay Poling and Dr. Jim Ballington of NCSU Horticulture Science Dept. for sharing Gaviota plants obtained from NorCal/Sakuma Nursery in northern California making possible these early fall comparative tests in our colder region.
Using biotechnology Daniel J. Cantliffe Professor, University of Florida Gainesville, Fla. 32611 Tel. 352-392-1928 x203 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The use of biotechnology has had a prominent place in the news in the past decade and has had its greatest exposure as it relates to pharmaceuticals and human health.
More recently, there has been much discussion in the popular press around the world as to the pros and cons of using biotechnology for such things as improvement of food crops. In the past four years, the acreage in the United States of soybeans, corn, and cotton has shifted dramatically to new germplasm created through biotechnology. More recently, some of the biotechnological improvements and the science from creating these new commodities have been utilized to improve various vegetable crops.
The overall technology relies on taking genes not normally found in the target species and introducing them to that species so that they may import such things as disease resistance, stress resistance, chemical resistance, and other types of important crop improvement possibilities.
Several vegetable crop varieties have been released into the commercial market and have shown good promise to improve vegetable production efficiencies.
The earliest work and releases relate to squash improvement wherein new hybrids have been released that give protection against three plant viruses that can effect as much as 80% of the United States squash crops during certain seasons. In the last three years, BT- sweet corn has been released and Roundup-ready lettuce has been developed and transferred to numerous leafy and iceberg lettuces. Unfortunately, because of widespread criticism of the use of genetically modified organisms by the public, especially in foods for human consumption, the commercial release and in some cases, even the development of new crops through biotechnology have been hindered. The importance of using biotechnology and science for vegetable crop improvement is potentially to be a common occurrence and need for the 21st century.
Precision ag for veggies Gary T. Roberson Associate Professor & Extension Specialist Biological and Agricultural Engineering North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-6715 Email: email@example.com Precision agriculture is a comprehensive system that relies on information, technology and management to optimize agricultural production. While utilized since the mid-1980s in agronomic crops, it is attracting increasing interest in horticultural crops. Relatively high per acre crop values for some horticultural crops and crop response to variability in soil and nutrients makes precision agriculture an attractive production system. Precision agriculture efforts in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at North Carolina State University are currently focused in two functional areas: site specific management (SSM) and post-harvest process management (PPM). Site specific management technologies are the focus of this presentation. Much of the information base, technology, and management practices developed in agronomic crops have practical and potentially profitable applications in fruit and vegetable production. Mechanized soil sampling, pest scouting and variable rate control systems are readily adapted to horticultural crops.
Applications of low cost GPS and handheld computer technologies offer the opportunity to greatly enhance and expand data collection and mapping activities. Yield monitors are available or are under development for many vegetable crops that can be mechanically harvested. Investigations have begun to develop yield monitoring capability for hand harvested crops by utilizing electronic labor management systems. Results of these investigations indicate a potential to generate useful management data with minimal additional cost. By utilizing and expanding upon systems already in use on the farm, the benefits of precision agriculture may be realized much more economically.
Yield monitoring R.W. Heiniger Extension Crop Science Specialist Crop Science Department Vernon James Research & Extension Center North Carolina State University Plymouth, N.C. 27962 Tel. 252-793-4428 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Yield maps are one of the most valuable information tools available to today's farmers. Because the yield of a given crop integrates information about water use, fertility, genetics, and management, yield maps can be used to determine what factors limited crop growth and help the farmer change management practices to increase productivity. Yield monitors are one of the most exciting new technologies available to grain and cotton farmers. A yield monitor measures grain or cotton flowing into the combine or picker every second and provides information to the operator about the weight of grain or cotton, the amount harvested per acre, and the moisture content. When linked to a differential global positioning system (DGPS) receiver, the yield monitor has the capability of producing a map of crop yield within a field. This gives the farmer the ability to examine yield trends and their relationship to soil properties, crop management practices, and weather factors.
Our research over the past four years has shown that proper use of DGPS linked yield monitors can result in information that, when acted upon, increases crop production. To be successful with a yield monitor, the producer must make a commitment to obtain high quality data, protect that data, and then use that data in his/her management plans. While some procedures or equipment for acquiring yield information may require additional time or money, they often prove to be worthwhile when one considers the additional time saved or increased value of the information obtained.
Once the data is collected it is critical that it be properly analyzed. Maps must be compared to known soil properties, crop management practices, and environmental records to help determine what the most limiting factor to grain yield was at any location in the field. Correlations between yield and soil properties can help identify yield-limiting factors. Changing management practices are a result of producer confidence in the information that he has received from the yield monitoring system.
This paper describes the problems and solutions to setting up and using DPGS linked yield monitors for both grain and cotton. We will also show how yield information can be used to increase productivity by determining how much fertilizer to apply, when to plant, what hybrid or variety to plant, and a number of other management practices.
Variable rate irrigation John Sadler Soil Scientist USDA, ARS Coastal Plains Soil, Water, Plant Research Center Florence, S.C. 29501 Tel. 843-669-5203 x112 Email: email@example.com Recently, producers, industry, and service providers have demonstrated interest in precision agriculture as a best management practice for several managed inputs, including fertilizer, pesticides, and seeding. During the early 1990's, research at four locations developed equipment and techniques for managing irrigation inputs using variable-rate technology. Three of these, Ft. Collins Colo., Aberdeen Idaho, and Prosser, Wash., are in the arid or semi-arid West. The fourth, at Florence S.C., is the only site addressing issues in the humid region, or on the sandy Coastal Plain. All four built the site-specific irrigation machines by modifying commercial equipment; one using a linear move machine and the others, center pivots.
The individual sites varied in some respects, but generally strove for the primary objective of varying water application depth both in the direction of travel and along the machine. This presentation will cover the general approaches used in the four locations, and describe where different approaches have relative advantages and disadvantages.
Common components of all machines are a variable-rate sprinkler system, a variable-rate water supply, a control system, a position system, and a nutrient injection system. Each of these components differs in some respects from the equivalent device on a commercial irrigation system.
The sprinkler systems usually use either a pulsed flow, with depth depending on number of pulses per unit time, or a combination of several sprinkler sizes, with depth depending on the particular sizes chosen at a given time.
Variable-rate water supply systems have used a variable rate pump control, a combination of different-sized pumps in stages, or a bypass valve to return excess flow to a reservoir. Control systems have usually been based on programmable logic controllers with addressable valves to control the flow of water or direct wiring in some cases. Position determination for center pivots has usually used the pivot's resolver for shorter pivots, and either a GPS or electronic compass for longer ones. Position for linear moves has been done with GPS, in combination with dead reckoning. Nutrient injection has been accomplished using a variable-rate pump controlled to achieve a constant nutrient concentration, so that the nutrient application depended on water application depth. Examples of several implementations of these components will be shown. Examples of the research that has been done with the machines will be presented, with particular emphasis on results applicable to the soils, crops, and climate of the humid Southeast.
Realistic yield goals Robert McBride Department of Soil Science North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-789-4329 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The goal of precision agriculture is to improve efficiency at the same time minimizing environmental impacts. Traditional grid sampling has been used to characterize within field variability of soil fertility. Often, with little success, researchers have tried to relate soil fertility variability to crop yield variability. In this regard, grid sampling has proved to be inadequate, since often crop yield variability is not strongly correlated to soil fertility variability. Soil physical properties that effect plant available water may be more closely tied to variations in crop yield. Also, the number of samples required, and the depth of profile analysis, makes grid sampling uneconomical. As an alternative to grid sampling, directed sampling may be used whereby a limited number of samples are collected within areas with similar productivity potential. The inputs necessary for optimum crop production can then be extrapolated for these management units. When delineating management units the objective is to find regions with homogeneous variables that best explain the crop yield viability. These variables may be measured by such means as detailed soils maps, crop yield maps, digital elevation models, remote sensing, or detailed field evaluation by a soil scientist or agronomist.
Variable P & K applications Dr. Noble R. Usherwood and Dr. Paul Fixen Southeast Director and Senior Vice President, Potash and Phosphate Institute Stone Mountain, Ga. 30083 Tel. 404-294-0137 Variable rate application of crop production inputs such as seed, crop protection chemicals, limestone and specific fertilizer nutrients such as phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) is expected to become a key component of site specific management systems. Potential benefits include the improvement of crop yield and quality, use- efficiency and effectiveness of nutrients and certain crop in-puts, profitability, as well as environmental stewardship. Intensive sampling of fields by either the grid or zone procedures often reflects the in-field variability of soil test levels for P and K and the opportunity for variable rate application of these nutrients. Research studies comparing variable rate application of P and K with conventional methods of application show that corn yield and profitability can be improved with such technology. Upward adjustment of the rate of a fertilizer nutrient applied on low testing areas of a field has been shown to improve crop growth but have only a minimal effect upon the initial soil test level. Until low-test zones are built up through fertilization, the need for variable rate fertilization continues. Crop yield maps reflect the collective influence of crop stress factors.
Global positioning David A. Crouse, Ph.D. Department of Soil Science North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919.515.7302 Email: email@example.com Technologies have evolved where Extension agents, farmers, consultants, resource managers, and the general public use the global positioning system (GPS) to collect spatially referenced data and display and analyze that data in a geographic information system (GIS). Specifically, precision agriculture involves assessment of the spatial variability in soil and crop parameters, and managing that variability to enhance agricultural productivity, input efficiency, and environmental quality. The practical use of precision farming technology revolves around the collection of data (crop yield and soil test data) using GPS. That geo-referenced data is input into a GIS. A GIS is simply mapping software designed to display the spatial data, and analyze or interpret relationships between the spatial data layers. The data layers used in a GIS include 1) spatial soil test and soil property data, 2) crop yield data obtained from a yield monitoring combine, 3) remote sensing data (aerial or satellite imagery), and 4) other land surface data such as rivers, streams, and numerous other topographical features. This presentation will outline basic terminology and use of the global positioning system and geographic information systems.
Variable rates in wheat Randy Weisz Small Grain Extension Specialist North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-5824 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Growing a crop with a narrow profit margin demands careful attention to optimizing inputs. This is especially true of Southeastern wheat. We have excellent wheat varieties to choose from that can reduce the amount of fungicides required to produce a good crop.
We have thresholds to guide insecticide inputs. We have soil tests to minimize P, K, and lime costs. Now there are opportunities to optimize nitrogen inputs to maximize yield and minimize excess fertilizer costs. Research supported by the NC Small Grain Growers Association has demonstrated the benefit of splitting N top-dress applications if tiller density is low, and of avoiding the extra cost of split applications when adequate tillers are present. Research conducted in VA has demonstrated that wheat N rates can be optimized with a tissue test. Case and Miles Opt-Crop, are taking just that approach to managing variable rate N applications for wheat and corn.
These variable rate systems use optical sensors mounted on the front of a sprayer to apply more N to wheat in areas of the field that are deficient and reduce N output over wheat that has optimal N levels already. But these systems are still in development and so far have unreliable track records. Here in NC we are developing similar systems specifically for our environment. This presentation will describe the variable rate N systems in development and our results to date in using optical sensing and variable rate N in wheat.
Precision economics R. W. Heiniger Extension Crop Science Specialist Crop Science Department Vernon James Research & Extension Center North Carolina State University Plymouth, N.C. 27962 Tel. 252-793-4428 Email: email@example.com The essence of precision agriculture is the collection and interpretation of detailed information for use in managing agricultural systems. To be profitable, growers using precision agriculture techniques must be able to collect information accurately and inexpensively and then must interpret and apply the knowledge gained from that information to reduce costs, increase yield, or better utilize natural resources.
Perhaps the best method of determining the value of precision farming techniques is the use of grower experience in a given region. Growers soon discover processes that save money or increase returns. Therefore, situations where growers report positive experiences with precision farming techniques should provide an insight into the factors that influence the success of precision farming.
A study was done using several case studies from farms in the Coastal Plain and Tidewater regions of the Southeastern U.S. to determine the profitability of precision farming.
Despite low commodity prices and the higher cost for precision farming services, there has been a rapid increase in the number of growers in this region using precision agricultural services and the number of hectares being grid sampled.
This study sought to determine 1) when precision farming improved profit, 2) if improvements in profitability resulted from decreasing the amount of inputs applied, increases in crop yield, or to both of these factors, 3) the within-field factors that makes site-specific management profitable, and 4) how crop yield responses influenced profitability. The study found three key factors associated with the success of precision farming.
Variable-rate applications will have a high potential for increasing profit whenever a) the field average value for property in question is significantly less than the target value, b) there is a good relationship between crop yield and the property being tested, and c) there is a yield (or financial) penalty for both under and over-application. Such a situation would exist when there is an environmental penalty for over-application of nutrients resulting in restrictions on nutrient applications or fines or if the over-application of lime resulted in increasing pH levels leading to micronutrient deficiencies.
Biological revolution Gerald A. Carlson Professor of Agricultural Economics North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-4539 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The "miracle" of modern agriculture in which consumers in developed countries now spend very little of their income for food is dependent on good science, hard-working farmers and competitive markets. In the past 50 years, biological innovations in corn, soybeans and broilers brought high rates of return to farmers and established a foundation for the green revolution in other commodities (especially wheat and rice) and in other parts of the world. Important to these developments were plant and animal breeding, economic incentives and rational farmers who helped prevent famines by helping themselves. But the higher-yielding crop varieties required more management and purchased inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers which sometimes had unintended, off-site costs. Handling agricultural pollution was an important part of the biological revolution. This take-off phase of the biological revolution was followed by the biotechnology phase of the past 10 years. Biotech crops which are tolerant to particular herbicides or contain selective insecticides provide higher yields and usually use less and/or safer pesticides. Consumers throughout the world have been helped by the lower commodity prices induced by use of these technologies (Examples from Bt cotton and other technologies will be included.) However, there are food safety, environmental and property right questions raised by the new technologies. Biotech products that could relieve malnutrition in developing countries are under test. But the transfer of the new crops to developing countries will take private and public investment and the recent level of agricultural investment is low (one eighth that in developed countries). In addition, because of the uncertainty in property rights and lower than expected corporate profits, private support for biotechnology in agriculture has been falling in the past few years. A real test for the Land Grant Universities is upon us, that is, can we provide the leadership to design safe and efficient technologies, together with market and other institutions for the next phase of the agricultural revolution around the world.
Variable rate lime Mark Alley W. G. Wysor Professor of Agriculture Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Va. 24061 Tel. 540-231-9777 Email: email@example.com Crop yields can be reduced greatly by acid soil conditions through aluminum toxicity, magnesium and calcium deficiencies, lowered phosphorus availability and reduced microbial activity. The objectives of this presentation are (1) to describe variation in soil acidity and lime requirements with changing soil properties; (2) discuss soil sampling programs to detect variations in lime requirements; and (3) present data that illustrate variations in lime requirements within fields.
Soil acidity results from several processes including organic matter decomposition, fertilizer applications, and rainfall. Lime applications neutralize soil acidity, provide calcium and magnesium for plants, and reduce toxic levels of aluminum. Lime requirements vary with soil clay and organic matter contents because of reserve acidity. Reserve acidity is the acidity held on the soil exchange complex and increases directly with increasing soil clay and organic matter contents.
Soil clay and organic matter contents can vary greatly within fields in the mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, and thus lime rates required to neutralize acidity can vary greatly within fields. Variable rate lime application provides a means to optimize lime rates for each area of a field. However, to detect different lime needs within a field, soil-sampling programs must reflect major differences in soil clay and organic matter contents. Proper establishment of soil sampling (management) zones and a quality soil-sampling program insures that the resulting variable rate lime application maps accurately describe variations in lime needs within fields. Data will be presented to illustrate the establishment of soil sampling zones for determining soil pH and lime requirements within fields. Variable rate lime application maps will be presented and discussed.
Variable waste application Craig Jorgensen Manager, Manure Application Equipment Ag-Chem Equipment Co. Jackson, Minn. Tel. 507-847-2690 firstname.lastname@example.org In March of 1999, USDA and EPA released their Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations. One key component of this proposal will change the way manure is land-applied in the U.S. The strategy requires, among other things, that the manure application rate be based upon crop nutrient requirements, balancing the needs of the planned crop with the nutrients already available in the soil, in the manure, and from other sources. With rare exception, application rates will be calculated by any of three commonly accepted methods: 1) The Phosphorus Index, 2) The Phosphorus Threshold Method, or 3) The soil test Phosphorus Method.
Applying manure based upon Phosphorus guidelines will decrease application rates and increase the amount of acres needed for manure application. All three methods referred to by the EPA for calculating the manure application will require soil testing to determine specific rates of application.
As you have heard from previous speakers at this conference as well as anyone knowledgeable on site specific agriculture, almost every farm field in the US will vary across the field in areas such as soil types, soil test values, yield, slope and so on. Our job as producers and agricultural professionals is to maximize the return for each field and specifically each given area of that field. With this said, it is clearly evident that grid sampling a field will show this variability more so than a composite sample, making it possible to treat each area specifically to its needs and conditions. If a field is composite sampled it will not show the areas of the field which may benefit from additional applications of manure. A composite sample only gives us the field average. When this applies to a Phosphorus Index, Phosphorus Threshold, or soil testing for Phosphorus it may result in a zero application rate for that whole particular field.
Grid sampling will show specific areas of the field, which may benefit from a manure application and also give other pertinent information specific to that area of the field such as soil type, slope or altitude and other information which may be beneficial to P index or threshold recommendations. Utilization, without over application, of manure based upon soil grid samples will maximize yields and minimize the amount of manure that needs to be hauled to fields of greater distance.
Variable rate applications of manure based upon these grid samples will also require variable rate applications of Nitrogen to match the crop yield expectations along with variable rate applications of manure which will contain a known amount of Nitrogen based upon a nutrient analysis of the manure.
Manure regulations are changing to protect our environment. Site specific solutions will not only meet these requirements but will also maximize the return for each specific area of a grain producer's field. Manure is only a waste product if it is treated that way. When manure is applied accurately and site specifically it holds a tremendous value to farmers across the world.
Cost share programs Sam Uzzell Pitt County Agricultural Extension Agent North Carolina State University Greenville, N.C. 27834 Tel. 252-757-2801 Email: email@example.com Agriculture is cited by various sources as a major contributor to environmental degradation. Changes in agricultural practices and techniques of tillage, land use, and nutrient management are identified as ways in which farming can become more environmentally friendly. As an inducement for farmers to adopt "Best Management Practices," State and Federal government agencies have established a number of programs to conserve soil, enhance wildlife, and encourage greater forest production and stewardship, and overall sustainability. Much of the information and amount of available funds for such programs is available at county Natural Resources Conservation Service offices.
Variable N in corn John F. Shanahan USDA-ARS, Research Agronomist University of Nebraska Lincoln, Neb. 68583 Tel. 402-472-1511 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Fertilizer nitrogen (N) is increasingly recognized as one of the sources of nitrate contamination in ground and surfaces waters in many regions of the U.S., providing much of the rationale for variable N application research. One of the major goals of these efforts is to match fertilizer application rates with crop needs over spatially variable landscapes, thereby reducing the potential for nitrate loss from agricultural lands. Early attempts to variably apply N were based on grower intuition, soil survey maps, and soil test data from sparsely spaced grid samples of variable fields. Most of these attempts were met with limited success.
Since that time, continued research has revealed the importance of considering additional site factors (ie. topography, soil texture, organic matter, etc.) that exerts major influence on a crop yield. Variable application of crop inputs such as N will likely be accomplished by dividing whole fields into smaller, homogeneous management zones. A management zone is a subregion of a field that expresses a relatively homogeneous combination of yield-limiting factors for which a single rate of a specific crop input is appropriate. However, because of the unpredictable nature of climatic conditions and the resultant effect on crop yield potential, it seems highly unlikely that the management zone concept alone will provide all the solutions for variable N application to corn. Alternatively, future variable application strategies will likely include the use of management zones in conjunction with use of in season diagnostic tools (i.e., chlorophyll meters, remote sensing, and on-the-go sensors).
With the use of high clearance application equipment and the development of remote sensing tools that simulate the performance of chlorophyll meters, practical methods will exist to detect and correct in-season N deficiencies. This will remove the risk of reduced yields that may occur when using bare-minimum pre-plant N applications. This paper will present some of the work under way and progress being made in the development of reliable, fast and inexpensive remote sensing tools.
Direct markets workshop John O'Sullivan, Co-chair Farm Management & Marketing Specialist Southern SARE PDP Management Team NC A&T State University Greensboro, NC 27420 Tel. 336-334-7957 Email: email@example.com Presenters: John Vollmer, Don Young, Taylor Williams and Nathan Snodgrass, Dallas Gallop, Carl Stokes, Gloria White and Jeff Morton.
We believe that we have a mix of presentations that will provide useful information to direct marketers. The goal of the program is to provide practical information based on experience that direct marketers can use. The presentations in the Direct Market Short Course cover the following topics:
(1.) John Vollmer - "Expanding your market mix by including an educational tour enterprise." John will discuss the steps the Vollmer Farm has taken to work with teachers and school administrators to provide an attractive educational experience for youngsters.
(2.) Don Young - "Preparing your market site for the off-season." Don will offer suggestions on how to prepare your roadside stand site for the off season. Marketing is communication. A roadside stand site does not need to portray anything other than that of a good business in the community even when the market is closed. Customers are too valuable to give anything other than a good impression.
(3.) Taylor Williams and Nathan Snodgrass - "Impacts of the I-73/74 development on the Highway 220 Roadside stands." Limited access high-speed highways can have a significant impact on traditional traffic flow patterns. Marketers need to plan for and make adjustments based on these developments. The presentation will discuss the experiences of marketers in Moore and Richmond Counties as they plan for the future north south Interstate passing through their counties.
(4.) Dallas Gallop - Marketing at the Washington County Farmers' Market." Dallas is the market manager and is a very successful marketer at the Washington County Farmers' Market in Plymouth. Over the last several years it has continued to receive strong community support because of its excellent location, high quality locally grown products, and good customer relations. The market is particularly strong with early and late greens and other vegetables.
(5.) Carl Stokes - "Liability and other legal issues in Farm Marketing." Carl is a lawyer from Texas active in agricultural legal issues. He will discuss various farm market legal issues.
(6.) Gloria White - "Liability and other legal issues in Farm Marketing." Gloria will discuss her own direct market experience with this topic.
(7.) Jeff Morton and Don Young - "Signage and Advertising" Jeff and Don will share some slides and comments on successful signage and advertising.
If you are interested in further information on one of these areas, please contact John O'Sullivan for contact information on the presenters in this workshop.
Roadside TODS program Taylor Williams and Nathan Snodgrass Agriculture Extension Agents Moore and Richmond Counties Carthage, N.C. 28327, Rockingham, N.C. 29379 Tel. 910-997-8255, 910-947-3188 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Sandhills farmers sell peaches, strawberries, and melons from stands along US 220, a two-lane highway from Candor to Rockingham. This road will be bypassed by Interstate 73. Produce stands will lose visibility when traffic is routed along the new Interstate. Growers in Pennsylvania and Maryland have a thriving direct market. Many of their stands had been bypassed by interstates. These stands were studied to learn how they adjusted. Pennsylvania provides Tourist Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) for farm stands to guide motorists off primary highways.
These findings were documented in a website (http://richmond.ces.state.nc.us/I73/) and a committee of growers, potters, tourism leaders, extension agents, and Highway Commissioner G.R. Kindley was formed. They sent a letter to Governor Hunt, requesting that a TODS program be initiated in North Carolina. In the short session of the legislature, a bill was introduced and passed in the Senate to establish a TODS program. Unfortunately, the bill failed in the House.
Irrigation water supplies Robert Evans, Ph.D., PE Associate Professor, Department Extension Leader Biological and Agricultural Engineering North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C 27695 Tel. 919-515-6788 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The water supply is the single most important component of an irrigation system. Critical features of the water supply are location, quantity and quality. During peak water use periods, most crops require up to one quarter inch of water per day, which equates to 4.7 gallons per minute per acre. When irrigation water losses are considered, the required design capacity approaches seven gpm/ac. Irrigation design involves properly selecting irrigation system components to satisfy the needs of the crop based on the availability of water. Other water quantity considerations and procedures for computing irrigation water requirements will be discussed. Water supplies are either surface sources - streams, rivers, or ponds - groundwater, or a combination of the two. There are many local, state and federal rules that govern an individual's rights to withdraw and use water for irrigation. These rules will be explained in terms of case study examples.
Water use critical periods Garry Grabow, Ph.D., P.E. Extension Assistant Professor NCSU Water Quality Group, Biological and Agricultural Engineering North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-8244 Email: email@example.com Required irrigation water supplies and the design of irrigation systems both depend upon the water demand of the crop. Crop water demand may be satisfied by either rainfall or irrigation. The water demand of the crop varies over the growing season, and may or may not coincide with periods of dependable rainfall. Additionally, there are critical periods within a growing season during which crop yield can be severely impacted by drought stress. During this session, the concepts of crop irrigation requirement (CIR), rainfall probability, effective rainfall, and yield response to water will be presented as applied in the identification of water use critical periods. Crop water use and rainfall information from various locations will be presented as examples. Sources of information on rainfall and crop water use will be shared.
Sub-surface drip irrigation Carl Camp Agricultural Engineer U. S. Department of Agriculture, ARS Coastal Plains Soil, Water, and Plant Research Center Florence, S.C. 29501 Tel. 843-669-5203 x 107 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) has been a part of agricultural irrigation in the USA for about 40 years, but it has become increasingly popular rapidly during the last 10-20 years. SDI was first used for high-value crops such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and sugarcane. Improved system reliability and longevity allowed systems to be used for several years, which reduced the annual system cost. This improved its profit potential for use on lower-valued agronomic crops. Design guidelines have also evolved to include unique design elements for SDI, including air entry ports for vacuum relief and flushing manifolds. Specific installation equipment and guidelines have been developed, which results in more consistent system installation, improved performance, and longer life.
Generally, crop yields with SDI are equal to or better than yields with other irrigation methods, including surface drip systems. Water requirements are similar to those for surface drip and fertilizer requirements are sometimes lower than for other irrigation methods. During the last decade, the use of wastewater with SDI has increased, but is not permitted for food crops in most states. This restriction will probably be modified in the future as more information is developed and competition for the water resource increases. SDI is a very precise irrigation method, both in the delivery of water and nutrients to desired locations and the timing and frequency of applications for optimal plant growth. The future of SDI is very promising.
Interpreting charts Ron Sheffield Extension Specialist, Biological, Agricultural Engineering North Carolina State University Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 919-515-6784 Email: email@example.com This workshop will introduce producers to reading a manufacturer's charts for pumps and irrigation sprinklers. Participants will work with manufacturers' tables to select appropriate pumps and sprinklers for irrigating crops in an example setting. Factors such as elevation, uniformity and pumping costs will also be discussed. Lastly, students will be introduced to several on-line and software resources for comparing and selecting irrigation pumps and sprinklers.
Sustainable yields Greg D. Hoyt Professor & Extension Specialist Dept. of Soil Science North Carolina State University Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center Fletcher, N.C. 28732 Tel. 828-684-3562 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org An experiment was designed to compare best management practices for conventional and conservation tillage systems, chemical IPM vs organic vegetable production, and rotation effect on tomatoes. Three vegetables were grown under these management practices with sweet corn (first year) and fall cabbage or cucumber (second year) and fall cabbage on half of the field plots and tomatoes on the other half. Tomatoes were grown in all field plots the third year. The treatments were 1) conventional-tillage with chemical-based IPM; 2) conventional-tillage with organic-based IPM; 3) conservation-tillage with chemical-based IPM; 4) conservation-tillage with organic-based IPM; and 5) conventional-tillage with no fertilizer or pest management (control).
This presentation describes sweet corn, cabbage, cucumber, and tomato yields from the various treatments over two, three-year rotations. Sweet corn yields were 34 percent higher in treatments with chemical fertilizer and pest control than with organic methods. Earworm damage was high (58 percent) in the organic treatment compared to the chemical IPM program (14 percent). Fall cabbage was planted after sweet corn and cucumber harvest (all treatments were re-applied). Marketable cabbage yields were in the order: conventional-tilled-organic > strip-tilled-chemical > conventional-tilled-chemical> strip-till-organic > control for both years. Percent culls ( conventional-tilled-organic = strip-till-chemical > strip-tilled-organic > control for both years. Insect damage on cucumber fruit was 51 percent for organic systems and one percent for chemical methods of production. No differences were seen between tillage systems within the same production system (chemical vs organic). Tomatoes grown under these various production systems for six continuous years produced yields that were in the order: conventional-tilled-chemical = strip-tilled-chemical > conventional-tilled-organic> strip-till-organic > control.
C.M.C. composting system Tim Driscoll Bloomfield Farms Capitola, Calif. 95010 Tel. 831-477-1135 Email: POIT2B@aol.com C.M.C. or "Controlled Microbial Compost" is a humified compost that has been microbially inoculated, aerated and monitored to ensure high standards of quality.
The C.M.C. composting method was developed through on-farm and laboratory research by Siegfried and Uta Luebke of Austria. Humus management is a soil management system the Luebkes use in conjunction with C.M.C. compost.
There are several rules for compost preparation; chief among them is location. Pick a place with good drainage, and protected from drying winds. You should have access to water, and enough storage space for many of your components such as yard waste, animal manure and rock dust.
The mix is essential to your success. The "what" is not as important as the balance of carbon to nitrogen materials that make up your piles. Maintenance of moisture and air to feed the microorganisms, as your piles transition through their phase development, is equally important. You must also develop cost effective sources for various materials.
The technological equipment necessary ranges from scientific monitoring devices, to an effective compost turner, to a simple blanket that supports moisture retention. Ultimately the testing allows you to see how well you have done.
Compost is not just compost! It is not a generic word for fertilizer or nutrition. C.M.C. is the essential ingredient to humus management in your soil. The making of high quality compost is not random, but a very clear process that, if followed, will bring out a very positive, long-term result on your farm.
Blackberries, raspberries Gina Fernandez and Jim Ballington Assistant Professor/Fruit Specialist Department of Horticultural Science Vernon G. James Research and Extension Center and Main Campus North Carolina State University Plymouth, N.C. and Raleigh, N.C. 27695 Tel. 252-793-4428 ext 167, 919-515-1214 Email: Gina_Fernandez@ncsu.edu Small fruit breeding programs in the United States have in the past five or so years released a number of improved blackberry and raspberry cultivars. These cultivars offer potential for the economic development of a bramble industry in the southeastern United States (SEUS), with particular promise for blackberries.
These cultivars have improved pest resistance, better flavor, larger fruit and most are throttles, which are characteristics that many of their predecessors lacked. In addition there are a few raspberry cultivars that may be used in some of the cooler regions of the SEUS. Cultivars from the University of Arkansas, University of Maryland and from the United States Department of Agriculture will be highlighted in this session. We will discuss the merits and faults these brambles, including fruit characteristics, pest resistances or problems, best training methods and storage characteristics. Experiences from scientists and growers will be welcomed during this open discussion.
Bramble crop protection Robert Walker Miller Professor Emeritus Dept. Plant Pathology and Physiology Clemson University Clemson, S.C. 29634 Tel. 864-656-5732 Email: WMiller@Clemson.edu Significant pests of Blackberries vary by site and variety and include diseases, double blossom also known as rosette, viruses, orange and cane rust, Botrytis and insects, raspberry crown borer, strawberry clipper, two spotted spider mites, blackberry/pine psyllid and Japanese beetles. Red raspberry significant pests include Phytophthora root rot, Botrytis, spur blight, cane blight and leaf rust for diseases and red necked cane borer, and the raspberry crown borer for the insects. Other incidental pests of brambles include leaf spots, powdery mildew, oberea borer, terminal borers and corn ear worms. The disease and/or life cycle of these pests will be discussed including cultural and plant pharmaceuticals tactics used in managing them. Significant gaps in available control strategies will be identified considering available plant pharmaceuticals preharvest intervals and re-entry intervals. Contact information electronically is email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Mailing address is 210 Long Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, S.C. 29634- 0377.
What to think about Edmund A. Estes and Don Thompson In the current economic environment of increasing costs, declining commodity prices, and reduced grower profits, consumers seem willing to buy new and exciting food products that are prepared conveniently. The double-digit growth rate experienced by the packaged salads, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, and the mini-carrot industries during the 1990s likely will continue throughout the early part of the new millennium. Many Americans have reduced the amount of time they are willing to spend on meal preparation such that most grocers now provide fully cooked items. Home meals are simply assembled at home rather than cooked. Some of the retail sector changes have impacted the local fruit and vegetable industry positively.
As demand expanded and increased consumption was noted, local growers have included plantings of horticultural crops in their planting scheme and have also evaluated the use of innovative production techniques such as black plastic and drip irrigation. Despite the high-income potential offered by fresh fruits or vegetables, history suggests that economic failures and disappointments will outnumber successes. Economic success can be assured only by successful marketing.
New producers as well as experienced growers often encounter serious marketing access problems because of inadequate production volume, the perishable nature of produce, increased concentration in the retail grocery sector, and the constant shifting of seasonal harvest patterns that create favorable and unfavorable `market windows'. Without access to wholesale markets or direct sales to retail grocery chains or foodservice distributors, market sales options are often limited to farmers' markets, pick your own operations, and/or roadside markets.
The rapid consolidation of retail, wholesale, and foodservice firms has only exacerbated market access problems for small-to-moderate volume growers since large volume users favor larger volume suppliers who deliver sufficient quantities of diverse products over a sufficiently long time period.
As the new millennium begins, two basic produce marketing strategies have emerged:
(1.) Focus on becoming a high volume, low cost commodity supplier and target large volume retailers such as Wal Mart and K-Mart at your primary customers; or
(2) focus on value added concepts that provide high quality, service, variety, convenience, and competitive (but not necessarily the lowest) prices to regional and local supermarkets.
Market access could require suppliers also to examine joint marketing arrangements where volume is enhanced and value added service is offered to buyers through standardized shipping containers, consistent high-quality packs, and use of shelf life extension techniques practices such as precooling. For some new or experienced produce growers, market access may be determined on the target market chosen. Can you or do you want to compete in a `commodity' market where the lowest price is the ticket to access? Are you interested in competing in a specialty or value added niche market where added service sets your product apart from competing suppliers? At this session, the discussion and examples will focus on understanding produce marketing dynamics and how to gain market access if you're a small to moderate volume produce grower and do not employ a broker or sales agent to handle sales arrangement.
Four years ago, Perthshire, Miss., farmer Kenneth Hood was one of only a handful of Mid-South farmers brave enough to begin investing in precision farming tools. Now, his farm is a shining example of what is possible through the use of this continually emerging technology.
As one of the early adopters of precision technology, Hood knows which precision farming tools can help producers increase their bottom line, and which are in need to further development. He'll share his experiences with other farmers at the Southeast AgTech2000 Conference scheduled for Dec.11-13 in Greensboro, N.C.
Hood believes precision agriculture can help producers reduce, or at least maintain their production costs at current levels. He admits, though, that there are problems with this new technology that need to be overcome in order to make the technology more profitable to farmers.
One area where Hood sees great potential for cost savings is the use of variable rate technology for seeding, and applying fertilizers, plant growth regulators and insecticides. "While I may not be substantially increasing yields with this technology, I am cutting my production costs by applying only what is needed where it is needed in the field," he says. "I only apply nutrients where they are needed in the field. I only apply plant growth regulators where they are needed in the field. And now, we are working on making insecticide applications with variable rate technology.
Due to the high costs associated with insecticide applications, Hood expects the savings variable rate technology can offer to be "very, very conducive to a farmer adopting precision technology."
Hood also sees potential increased profitability through the use of reliable yield monitors. "Farmers can readily see those areas in their fields that are more profitable. And, with this information, they will be better able to implement the management decisions needed to increase the profitability of those low yielding areas."
One obstacle to the widespread adoption of precision technology, Hood says, is the cost to the farmer for satellite imagery and the timeliness of these eye-in-the-sky pictures.
"Right now if the weather is cloudy, I miss the imagery for that week and, instead, it's at least two weeks before I can get that satellite image for my farm. It's necessary for us to receive these images on a weekly basis in order make intelligent management decisions," Hood says. "Also, if we could acquire the imagery at a more economical cost, the technology would be more profitable, making it more easily integrated into a farmer's production system."
There's also a compatibility question with some of the precision tools currently available to farmers. Hood says he has experienced some compatibility problems between GPS controllers, display units, computer equipment and computer.
"In order for this technology to be profitable, farmers need to be able to spread out their costs by using the same precision tool for more than one application," he says. "We also need better software programs to process this data that are both compatible with existing equipment and affordable to the farmer."
"What we need most is service providers who will provide this service in an affordable manner to their producer customers. These providers could be cooperatives, ginners, consultants, or commodity groups. There ought to be a number of different service providers out there willing to provide this service to us," he says.
If he could rewind the last four years of precision farming, what would Hood do differently? "I started without a yield monitor in cotton. So, the first thing, as a producer, that I would do differently today is to start with yield monitors on all of my equipment so I could see the variations in my fields more quickly."