Monday, out of the blue, a tweet popped up bringing to mind a friend and pointing to an article in Fast Company. The tweet was sent cause I make my love of cotton clear, and I’ve got a bit of a niche in Twitter but he couldn’t have known what he’d trigger. The article read in part…..
Martin, 47, relies on GPS technology to improve efficiency and trim fertilizer use on her family’s large cotton operation.
“Our GPS-equipped harvesting machine allows us to generate a yield map. The strongest areas of the field show up in nice greens and blues, and the weaker areas in oranges and reds, which can indicate infertility or problems with pH balance or drainage. We can then send someone out with an iPad or other GPS-enabled handheld device to very precisely gather soil samples from those problem areas. It’s a precision that the human eye and hand just can’t achieve. We’re doing a much better job of applying fertilizer only where we need to. The efficient and wise use of our environment is served by this technology.”
So, my first reaction? It was to pick up the phone and call Larkin Martin of course! What a great excuse to catch up!
Larkin is the kind of farmer I had heard about since I got in the cotton industry mmumnm years ago. Part of a family farm that was in transition. Farming in an area that could experience tough years, a reality that weather and pests could really hit a farm hard. In fact, 1996 was so tough you still hear farmers across the Cotton Belt talk about it! Oh yeah, and Larkin is a woman.
I say that for two reasons: 1) rarely was among the first things brought up when talking to or about her and 2) people seem to forget women can be farmers. For me, having worked in cotton for mmumnm years, I knew of Larkin for quite a while before I had a chance to really get to know her. While we have joked about being the cotton girls, we really got to know each other when she came to the Delta for a meeting and said it would really be worth her time to make the trip if I could find a way to get her on the schedule of another farming friend, Kenneth Hood, who had pioneered the use of precision ag.
When I say he pioneered it, let me point out that NASA did some things on his farm for a few years. Yes, the NASA that sent Neil Armstrong to walk on the moon. Kenneth was so busy with precision ag and GPS at the time, that I wondered how he had time to tear down a cotton picker that was in need of a few repairs, but he always got everything done. And he always was interested in sharing what he knew with others. What a day I had hanging out with he & Larkin! I just sat back & soaked it up most of the time, though occasionally I had to ask another question.
The investments they discussed decades ago have resulted in incredible efficiencies. They saw the potential to do something very different on their farm to improve the environment and economics. And that’s just one of the many things they and other farmers have done with the same goals in mind. Yep, what a series of thoughts one simple tweet can inspire. Thanks John.