Precision Farming Keeping Mississippi Delta Alive

Clarksdale native David Carr recognized by Delta Farm Press

Precision Farming Keeping Mississippi Delta Alive

Farmer working on a cotton picker which uses precision farming.

Precision Farming or Precision Agriculture had its genesis in the early 1990’s with the technological introduction of GPS guidance for farm tractors. Due to the prohibitive rising cost of inputs in agriculture, it is increasingly imperative that farmers utilize every available research-based asset to maximize profits in an often profitless business—even on high production years given the consistent low worldwide commodity prices, the costs of genetically modified seed, chemicals, labor, diesel, irrigation and rising land cost. Precision Farming is helping many Mississippi Delta farmers stay afloat in an industry where everything is rising except the price for harvested row crops.

One of the highlights on Delta Bohemian Tours is our final hour spent in the Delta’s version of the outback discussing the evolution and importance of agriculture and how it informs what brings many of them here, the Blues! Agriculture remains the backbone of the Mississippi Delta’s tax base, and the tourists who pile into Clarksdale daily from all over the world find it and its agrarian influence on the arts fascinating, as do I.

I read articles often from Delta Farm Press, so as to apprise my sieve-like brain of info worth sharing with interested visitors to our fair region. Yesterday one popped up about my friend and fellow Bible-College graduate, Clarksdale native David Carr. The Delta scion hails from a multi-generational family with storied, egalitarian roots steadfastly veined in our alluvial, almost bottomless topsoil.

David is an excellent farmer—other farmers tell me so, and that has substance—but also along with his wife and business partner, Leah, they are kind, solid, salt-of-the-earth folks.

It is not enough to understand soil and weather patterns and how to grease a plow anymore in order to make a living even in good years. The farmer has to intimately understand EPA, FHA, federal, state, crop insurance and industry regulations ad finitum, in addition to knowing how to hedge how much of one’s crop on the future’s market and to broker it at what price and time. Also, prognosticating next year’s crop mix along with each crop’s seed variety selection can be the difference between farming another year and changing vocations.

It can take months for a farmer just to fill out all the damn paperwork for the ravenous bureaucracies marbled into their existence. Next year’s crop loan is never a given and the price of commodities from month to month is as capricious as the next gust of wind.

One could have the makings of a bumper crop just days and hours before harvest, when a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico sends inches, feet and days and weeks of rain north, prohibiting the crop ever leaving the field. Whew!

And, folks wonder why a large percentage of us in the Deep South believe in God and depend on Providence along with technology and agricultural acumen to get by. We gots to, and that’s a good thang!

If interested in somewhat of a layman’s description of Precision Farming, please read the Delta Farm Press article titled “David Carr: Increasing farm efficiency through technology” about my friend and all-around good guy. Cheers, and may the terroir be with you. chilly

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