OptiGro Team, Griffin Receive Awards of Excellence

Two more recipients of the 2010 PrecisionAg Awards of Excellence have been selected. Clint Jayroe and the OptiGro Team, part of the Jimmy Sanders, Inc. retail operation based in Cleveland, MS, receive the Precision Crop Adviser/Entrepreneur award. The Education/Extension award recipient for 2010 is Dr. Terry Griffin, professor of economics at University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.

Clint Jayroe and the OptiGro Team
Jayroe heads up the OptiGro Team, a full service crop consulting service provided by Jimmy Sanders, Inc. OptiGro provides agricultural advice, information, and precision agriculture resources to farmer-customers designed to provide maximum return on investment. OptiGro includes trained Certified Crop Advisors utilizing the latest software applications paired with Web transmission and integration for agricultural data processing, storage, and analysis. OptiGro improves the productivity and profitability of each customer through a higher level of management and expertise.

Jimmy Sanders, Inc. has been an agricultural leader and innovator in the Mid-South since 1953, serving production agriculture with farm inputs and on-farm expertise in all aspects of the unique needs of the Mississippi River Delta region. They service a diverse crop mix of rice, cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum and even specialty crops such as sweet potatoes and peanuts.

“Their slogan, ‘Before Seed … Beyond Harvest’ adequately describes how Sanders differs from the other input dealers and service providers,” says Darrington Seward of Seward & Son Planting Company of Louise, MS. “They have been a long time provider of precision technologies through custom application, precision soil sampling, and other grower focused tools that make technology easy to implement in large scale operations through their OptiGro system.”
The extreme variation in Mid-South Mississippi River Delta soils originating from a combination of eolian and alluvial processes presents many challenges across the landscape. Jimmy Sanders, Inc. recognized this challenge early on and has worked to provide precision soil sampling and variable rate application for many years. Its OptiGro program coupled with trained field representatives have made managing these challenges much easier with expert knowledge, grower accessible data and software, and over a dozen years of precision application experience, says Seward.

“OptiGro works with producers across the Mid-South to place trials in production fields capturing thousands of acres in field trials with yield monitors,” says Seweard. “This data validates real farm conditions with each variety and product tested and offers the grower reliable information quickly. It is the ease at which this information is produced on real farms that makes OptiGro unique and useful for growers that want quality information from their own farm.”

The basic use of OptiGro is analyzing on-farm data to make better input decisions and when necessary, treat management zones site specifically or variable rate. OptiGro provides a user-friendly means of producing variable rate fertilizer and seeding prescriptions as well as processing data layers such as aerial imagery for in-season decision making. OptiGro is a long time provider of aerial imagery to apply variable rates of plant growth regulators and defoliants in cotton production. This technology has led to significant chemical savings as well as a more manageable crop.

“Jimmy Sanders, Inc. with their OptiGro program and trained advisors has made precision technologies practical for nearly any user,” says Seward “OptiGro is continually adding more functionality and staying ahead of the curve with new technologies, and they really help me take full advantage of the equipment technology that I have on my farm by pairing the latest controller technologies with expert agronomic information. I use services from OptiGro on my farm nearly every day.”

Dr. Terry Griffin
Griffin serves in Extension, research, and teaching roles in farm management and spatial technologies as a professor of economics at University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Griffin has been studying the farm-level and societal benefits of precision agriculture since 1997 but has been contemplating agricultural technology since the late 1970s on his family farm in Northeast Arkansas.

His 1999 MS thesis research from University of Arkansas presented the first results on the adoption and economics of precision agriculture in Arkansas. Prior to returning to Arkansas, Griffin served eight years in the Midwest as an Extension Educator with University of Illinois Extension and then earned his PhD from Purdue University. At University of Illinois, Griffin delivered in-service trainings on GIS, GPS, and collecting site-specific data; becoming the de facto precision agriculture specialist in Illinois while earning two national awards from the National Association of County Agricultural Agents co-sponsored by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for his precision agriculture programming.
In 2003 and 2004, Griffin served as the National Science Foundation External Reviewer for the Jackson State Community College Precision Agriculture Program. Griffin has six referred journal articles, one book chapter, 42 conference proceedings, and hundreds of invited presentations.

Griffin has conducted economic analyses such as tracking technology adoption and evaluating farm-level profitability of yield monitors, variable rate applications, and GPS-enabled navigation technologies; but he has also worked with scientists not traditionally associated with precision agriculture such as gerontologists to study how GPS guidance impacts the quality-of-life of older farmers or those who suffer from disabilities.

He is active internationally collaborating as the economist and spatial econometrician with agricultural scientists from Germany, South Africa, Argentina, United Kingdom, and Australia, in addition to his domestic work in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Illinois, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Louisiana on analyzing site-specific data.
“Although precision agriculture technologies have been criticized for being relatively less attractive to smaller acreage farms, Griffin’s work applies to farms regardless of size,” says Dr. Edward Barnes, director of agricultural research at Cotton Incorporated.

Griffin is committed to the science and education of precision agriculture,” adds Barnes. “He was among the first scientists to quantify the farm-level profitability of precision agriculture technology, helping advance the adoption and utilization of the technology. He has used a range of analyses including whole-farm linear programming models to ascertain the profitability of automated guidance, spatial statistical methods to analyze yield monitor data, and assess the adoption of precision agricultural technology including a quantitative review of the profitability literature.”

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