Wiregrass farmers tour county
Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 27, 2015
Nearly 40 Wiregrass farmers visited Covington County row crop, poultry and cattle farms along with PowerSouth’s generating plant as part of the Alabama Farmers Federation southeastern state tour Wednesday.
The tour helps visiting farmers see what Covington County farmers are doing to make their farms successful and provides an open forum for discussions about farm practices seen on the tour.
“Farmers are constantly looking for ways to improve what they do and become more efficient,” said Federation Area 8 Organization Director Boyd Deal, who organized the tour. “The cost of land, equipment, seed, feed and fertilizer has gone up drastically in recent years, and the price the farmer is paid for what he grows hasn’t kept pace. So the best farmers can do is try to find ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency.”
Farmers toured cotton and peanut test plots near Andalusia planted by Wiregrass Research and Extension Center workers. The plots featured seed varieties, and the research yielded could be useful to farmers deciding what to plant next spring.
Henry County farmer Thomas Adams was on the tour and said he found the information valuable. He grows cotton and peanuts and raises cattle on his farm.
“I’ve read about some of the new varieties of cotton and peanuts they planted on the test plots here,” Adams said. “Actually seeing crops growing helped me make some decisions for next year. I know I will be planting at least one of the new cotton and one of the new peanut varieties.”
A stop at Tommy Thompson’s farm focused on row crops and Covington County’s largest industry – poultry and eggs.
Collectively, poultry and eggs are Alabama’s largest agricultural commodity with an annual economic impact of $3.1 billion, according to a recent Auburn University survey. In Covington County, Thompson’s egg farm contributes to the $112 million economic impact the industry has here, along with creating 690 jobs, the study reported.
Adams said he also found the layer houses at Thompson’s farms interesting.
“I’ve been in broiler (poultry) houses many times, but that was my first time to see a layer operation,” said Adams, who is Henry County Farmers Federation president. “It’s a lot different than a broiler house, and it’s very labor intensive.”
PowerSouth plant manager David Wyatt told tour participants there are 915,000 consumer-owners across 39 Alabama counties and 10 Florida counties. Wyatt is a Covington County Farmers Federation Board member.
The final stop on the tour was Ricky and Russell Wiggins’ diversified farm. Tour members learned how the Wiggins use conservation tillage to preserve soil when planting their crops.
Today, the tour group will visit Pike County where stops include Golden Boy Peanut Butter Plant and Gene and Jana Renfroe’s treasure forest near Troy and Southern Classic Food Group LLC and Magnolia Vegetable Processors in Brundidge.