Marshall Farms was recognized as the Okaloosa County Agriculture Innovator of the Year by Jennifer Bearden, UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Extension agriculture agent. Marshall Farms is among 13 innovative farmers and ranchers recognized on Aug. 17 by University of Florida IFAS Extension and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida. This was the second year these two organizations teamed up to honor a selection of the top innovative farmers in the the Florida Panhandle. This year’s event took place at the Jay Community Center in Santa Rosa county.
Okaloosa County Public Information Officer Kathy Newby and I provide the following highlights of the 2012 Agriculture Innovator awards in today’s article.
James and Nick Marshall operate Marshall Farms located in Baker, producing cotton and peanuts on over 2100 acres in Okaloosa County. The father and son pair strive to make sound decisions that conserve the natural resources they use to grow their commodities. Examples of why they gained this recognition include:
- use of technology such as Grid Soil Sampling and GPS-guided planting
- use of precision agriculture to grow their crops
- use of a round bale cotton picker, which saves time and money for the operation
- use of a self-propelled peanut combine to increase efficiency
- use of resources to maximize productivity in order to stay competitive
Nick is a third-generation peanut farmer who recently was interviewed in the Southern Peanut Growers’ “Growers We Dig: Nick Marshall” video on YouTube http://youtu.be/jzWgR1DsNno
From the distinguished pool of 13 farmers, an Innovator of the Year was selected to represent Northwest Florida. This year Larry Ford, of Malone, who represented Jackson County, was selected as the Farm Credit of Northwest Florida Agriculture Innovator of the Year. Ford is well known as an excellent cotton, peanut, corn, and cattle farmer. Innovator of the Year Larry Ford’s highlights include:
- Pioneer in Florida providing the first on-farm testing of conservation strip tillage and is still working with researchers to refine this farming technique.
- Collaborator with the University of Florida’s 10 year, sod-based crop rotation research project, which utilizes Bahia grass in rotation with peanuts and cotton to reduce nematodes, diseases, and other pests and increase crop yields.
Ford worked extensively to help the faculty of the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center and UF/IFAS Jackson County Extension agents to develop innovative but practical solutions to farming challenges.
Ford has been a leader in agriculture serving six years on the national Peanut Board, including chairman in 2006. While serving in this capacity Ford traveled with a team to Mexico and Japan to help promote the use of peanut products in these countries.