MOULTRIE, Ga. (WALB) – Farmers and researchers said within the past 10 years the agriculture industry has evolved and the future of the multi-billion dollar industry will depend on new farming technology.
On Thursday, South Georgia farmers got together for the annual Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day. The event allowed farmers to drive around the fields to look at new farm technology and learn new things before the fall harvest.
It’s been a tough year for some South Georgia farmers, from severe weather patterns destroying harvests to rising inflation costs that make planting crops more expensive than ever before. All of that, however, hasn’t stopped farmers from looking ahead on how to improve their farms with the help of advancements in technology.
“We get hit with a disaster, we always, to bounce back, have to tighten our belts and look for new technologies to enhance our economic and environmental sustainability. And that’s what we’re all about today,” said Chip Blalock, Sunbelt Ag Expo executive director.
That new technology includes the current talk of the fields — a spray drone that can fly over crop fields and spray pesticides.
“I know some are being used already on the farm here in Colquitt County. I feel like they have a niche fit in taking care of our crops, in particular, escape pigweeds. We can’t afford to have any of those basically,” said Mark Murphy, a Moultrie farmer.
While the traditional green thumb has made many farmers successful, farmers tell WALB the progression of new gadgets will help sustain what they’ve already built.
“We’re already planning for next year and talking to these companies about what they want to do on the farm for next year and what’s in the pipeline and what’s coming up and it’s just crazy. You think you get on top of things and there’s constantly new technology,” said Cody Mitchell, Sunbelt Ag Expo farm manager.
UGA Extension Peanut Agronomist Scott Monfort said with the challenging job they do every day, educational opportunities like this motivate them to continue rolling up their sleeves to feed the world.
“We’re providing food and everything for everybody. This year we struggled,” he said.
In 2023, Monfort said peanuts were hit hard by an unexpected May frost, which pushed the planting window back two weeks. This and much more have impacted other crops and Georgia-grown products we see in grocery stores.
“If these guys fail out here, prices go up, and so we don’t want them to fail with any of these crops,” Monfort said.
That’s where education and new technology come in. The Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day allows farmers to do just that while connecting with other growers.
“It’s probably less than 2% of the population feeds 100% of the world. And there’s getting to be less of us. And as we get to be less and grow more acres we have to be more productive,” Blalock said.
Murphey said having test fields like the ones at the Sunbelt Ag Expo is something he appreciates as he invests in new technology.
“They do things that will help us in the future and we’ve got to keep up with the changes. A person couldn’t have a bigger challenge for a job I think than trying to be a farmer these days,” Murphey said.
While a date for next year’s Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day hasn’t been set yet, there are plans to host another one in 2024.
Copyright 2023 WALB. All rights reserved.