Three producers receive the Naturally Remarkable Planters Awards for sustainable practices and commitment to community.
A first-of-its-kind program developed by Planters, with the support of the National Peanut Board and other peanut industry organizations, the Naturally Remarkable Planters Awards recognizes peanut producers who are implementing sustainable practices and making positive social changes in their communities.
The program was created as a way to highlight and share innovative farming practices within the peanut community – encouraging others to take part in sustainable journeys of their own.
The farmers’ innovative solutions in environmental and social practices are a perfect extension of Planters own sustainability journey – from reducing our packaging footprint by 84 percent in a glass to plastic conversion, to achieving a zero waste to landfill target at our facility in Suffolk, Va.
Nominations were reviewed by a panel of judges, including agriculture academics and representatives from the USDA and the National Peanut Board. Submissions were evaluated on sustainability, effectiveness and originality.
Three regional award winners were selected representing the Southeast, Virginia-Carolinas and the Southwest. The 2011 winners of the Naturally Remarkable Planters Awards are: Barry Martin, Southeast; Billy Bain, Virginia/Carolinas; Otis Lee Johnson, Southwest.
Each of the three regional awardees received a $10,000 grant towards a “Naturally Remarkable” community revitalization project in their hometown in 2012. The awards were given at a reception in their honor held in New York City in September.
Barry Martin – Hawkinsville, Ga.
Southeast winner, Barry Martin’s, innovative ideas range from modifying existing equipment to conservation tillage work. Due to his systems-based approach to conservation tillage, which conserves soil and water, he has helped double his percentage of organic soil matter, an impressive feat for his region.
Martin’s farm borders a natural wetland and his sustainable farming practices help preserve the area for water fowl and other wildlife. He also encourages biodiversity by planting food and tree plots for local wildlife, including plots of corn, wheat and oak trees.
Because of drought, water usage is a major issue in Georgia. Martin implemented a Peanut Intensive Management Program, which provides timely information for precision irrigation. Depending on the season, cutting one irrigation event will save about 14 million gallons of water.
Martin is a featured speaker at conferences organized by the University Of Georgia College Of Agriculture and the Georgia Natural Resources Conservation Service and is an active member of several agricultural programs and committees. His farm was featured on a Best Management Tour for 20 farmers put on by the University of Florida.
Billy Bain – Dinwiddie, Va.
Virginia/Carolinas winner, Billy Bain, is an advocate for environmentally friendly farming practices and was the first state grower to strip-till peanuts, a process that led to less disease, maintained yields and reduced costs.
Bain employs regular soil testing to determine the right amount of nutrients for the soil and uses precision fertilization in order to avoid over- or under-fertilization of his crop. He is also an advocate of biodiversity, planting wildlife crops throughout his farm and utilizing a three-year cropping rotation schedule rotating cotton, soybean, corn, peanut and wheat.
Bain has set up numerous employee training opportunities and has hosted many educational events on his farms, from Elementary School Field Trips to Extension Field Tours.
He also regularly participates in training programs to better optimize his farm work. For example, by attending Pest Management Scouting Clinics, he and his crew are better able to scout for pests accurately, thus reducing the usage of pesticides and ensuring more effective pesticide applications.
Bain has been recognized for his innovative farming practices several times and is the winner of the 2009 Virginia Farmer of the Year and the 2010 Chowan River Basin Clean Water Awards.
Otis Lee Johnson – Seminole, Texas
Southwest winner, Otis Lee Johnson, was an early proponent of environmental sustainability practices. He uses low energy precision application (LEPA), along with low-drift nozzles to maximize irrigation efficiency and employs soil testing to determine proper nutrient needs and to avoid over-fertilization.
Because of his implementation of a strict four-year rotation with cotton, fewer pesticides are needed for his farm, and he has adopted bulk containers for farm chemicals to minimize waste. Through these and other techniques, Johnson is able to successfully and sustainably produce impressive yields in the harsh environment of the southern high plains – a feat which won him the Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award
Johnson has continued to stay educated on the most modern and efficient equipment and technology. He uses GPS guidance and auto-track systems, which have allowed him to save time and fuel. He also ensures his employees are kept up-to-date on recent farming practices through continuing education and safety programs.
Johnson sits on the board of numerous community groups such as the Western Peanut Growers Association and the Seminole ISD Board of Trustees. He is also the current Secretary/Treasurer and past Chairman of the Texas Peanut Producers Board. PG
What Is Sustainable Agriculture?
Every day, new, innovative strategies to produce and distribute food, fuel and fiber sustainably are developed. While these strategies vary greatly, they all embrace three broad goals, or what the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Association (SARE) calls the Three Pillars of Sustainability: profit over the long term; stewardship of our nation’s land, air and water and quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities.
There are almost as many ways to reach these goals as there are farms and ranches in America.
Examples Of Best Practices
A cattle rancher might divide his rangeland into paddocks in a rotational grazing system to better manage soil and water resources while improving animal productivity. A field-crop producer might implement a rotation to break up pest cycles, improve soil fertility and cut costs, or use cover crops. A fruit and vegetable grower might try a new marketing approach such as selling directly to restaurants in a nearby city to gain a larger share of the consumer food dollar.
No one recipe works on every farm and ranch, and it is impossible to list all the innovative and varied practices farmers and ranchers use to improve sustainability.
For more information and numerous examples of best practices, visit their Web site at www.southernsare.org.