“I hope we can move more into precision agriculture in peanuts. I’m interested in looking at the agronomic practices our growers are currently using and trying to come with some new ways to enhance some of things growers are already doing,” he says.

Peanuts are likely to reach record prices in 2012, and the new South Carolina peanut specialist says it will be critical to be more efficient and manage problems that occur during the growing season in an efficient way, without over-spending.

“If we can make a good crop, year in and year out, we can achieve sustainability for peanuts in South Carolina. A small percentage of South Carolina peanuts are irrigated and drought management is a constant concern. We have to work with Mother Nature to achieve this sustainability,” Monfort says.

“South Carolina peanut farmers already do a great job with GPS guided planting, spraying and digging, and there may be some ways to fine-tune those practices. We could also look at using some of the new precision technology to likewise fine-tune pesticide application,” he adds.

“In situations in which we have nematode problems, we have proven we can improve yields and maximize the efficient use of chemicals used to manage nematodes in other crops.

“Even with some soilborne diseases, especially seedling-type diseases, we can potentially do some variable rate applications at or immediately after planting of fungicides.

“The sky is the limit with precision agriculture, but it has to make money for the grower. There are plenty of things we could do with technology to make production practices work, but many of them simply aren’t practical for farmers,” Monfort says.

The growth of the peanut industry in South Carolina is an agriculture industry success story that came at a critical time when the state was badly in need of economic successes.