Field Day Shows Ag Technology
Blistering hot temperatures didn't deter growers and interested community members from attending the annual Black Farmers Field Day in Collinston on July 24.
For the past 14 years, members of the Morehouse Parish Black Farmers Association and the National Black Growers Council have sponsored the field day as a way to get young people in the area interested in agricultural careers and providing research-based information to landowners and growers.
Gina E. Eubanks, program leader for nutrition and food sciences in the LSU AgCenter and vice chancellor for extension in the Southern University Ag Center, said the purpose of the field day is to show the value of agriculture.
"This event is providing information to the youngest through the oldest of how technology is being applied in agriculture," Eubanks said.
Young people can see you don't have to spray these crops by hand, and you can use drones to survey the crop acreage, she said.
Southern University extension agent Odis Hill, coordinator of the field day, said this event is a way to let young people know that farming is not just a lot of hard work.
"We want these young people to see that there is a lot of technology involved in farming, which requires an understanding of science and various forms of technological understanding," Hill said.
A new feature of the event was the drone display by LSU AgCenter engineer Randy Price, who showed what two of his models can do that is helpful to farmers.
Price told the group that rules are currently being written to determine the way drones can be used commercially, but he explained a number of current farm uses before putting on a show for the participants.
"With cameras on the drones, a grower is able to take a number of photographs in his fields to see what's going on there," he said. "Cattle producers also are now using the equipment to check on their herds."
This year's program was a rolling field day that made stops on four member farms to look at different production systems for corn, cattle and soybeans and an irrigation system demonstration.
At Harper Armstrong's farm, his daughter demonstrated the use of GPS technology that monitors the spray rig and won't allow it to overlap rows, which reduces the waste of chemicals.
Armstrong said his crop looks good despite the lack of rain in the area. "The use of irrigation during this dry spell has really kept the crop looking good."\
Armstrong hopes to average between 170 and 180 bushels of corn per acre and 50-plus bushels per acre of soybeans.
"I would like to see 100 bushels, but I try to stay on the low side, so if they surprise me, I'm happy," he said.
Dewayne Goldmon, director of stakeholder relations for the Monsanto Company, also serves as the advisor to the Black Growers Council.
"In that capacity I try to make sure the growers get the information they need, which a lot of times is technical information that can help them to be more efficient on their farms," Goldmon said. "But the council has a network of activities and people that can help spread that out among the black-grower community."
About 95 percent of the National Black Growers Council members are located in 17 states that are comprised of the old cotton-growing states, Goldmon said.
At Curtis Peyton's cattle farm, Southern University Ag Center veterinarian Renita Marshall discussed modern cattle-handling techniques.
LSU AgCenter corn specialist Dan Fromme gave a presentation on the corn research plot on Armstrong's farm, while LSU AgCenter soybean specialist Ronnie Levy discussed the soybean research plot of Antwain Downs' farm.
The final stop on the tour showcased the importance of irrigation on Odis Hill's farm. LSU AgCenter agent Bruce Garner, along with irrigation engineer Stacia Davis and LSU AgCenter economist Naveen Adusumilli, showed the benefits of efficient irrigation practices.
The program ended with an awards luncheon where members of the association received Outstanding Service awards.
Pioneer Award winners announced on the tour this year included LSU AgCenter agent Terry Erwin, Jim Braucht and Henry Reese Sr.\
Certificates of Achievement were presented to Charles Lee, Charles Bonner, Robert Coleman and Don Williams.