TFI's World Fertilizer Conference
October 2-3, 2023
DC Marriott Marquis
GEORGIA PLANT FOOD
UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center
January 9-10, 2024
GPFES 2024 Summer Meeting
The Ritz Carlton
Amelia Island, FL
July 22-24, 2024
Kevin Owens, Chairman
Hello All! The Dog Days of Summer are here, and it seems like there is no relief in sight. Our farmers' crops are not exempt from the heat, as my travels across GA show. Scattered rains have been a blessing for many and pivots are a saving grace for others. Also, students are starting back to school and farmers are making final preparations for the upcoming harvest. Please keep them all in your prayers along with our country.
This edition of the What & Why is evident that GPFES is one of the best groups in the Industry. After each meeting, I reflect on where else one could learn about advancements or changes occurring in agriculture all while making new friendships and building stronger partnerships. This speaks volumes about what GPFES means and you the members that make it successful.
My wife always says “There is no such a thing as a bad day at the Ritz.” Well, this year no doubt validates her statement. Our planning committee assembled a great team of speakers on Monday and at our CCA Training Wednesday morning. The speakers were excellent, and their presentations touched on key issues across all of agriculture. The 5k Fun Run/Walk and the Silent Auction continue to grow each year. Our educational outreach would not be possible without these events and your support, Thank You.
As children begin school and harvest equipment enters our roads I would like everyone to take a moment to review the two safety links below. A successful day to me means that everyone makes it home safely every day!
School Bus Safety (ntsb.gov)
NASD - Safety on Public Roads (nasdonline.org)
John Gladden, President
I looked back at several old What & Why articles Jimmy Champion wrote for the post Summer Meeting edition. They all started with him saying he’d re-read several old ones and was always surprised by all the new technology of today and how it would have been received in the past.
I can only wonder what the ole timers would think of center pivots communicating with cell phones, tractors and harvesting machines that communicate with yield data, pest issues, self-guidance systems, weather data, etc.
We also have drones, and robots and Lord only knows what else is coming soon to our world of agriculture.
Others will give you all the stats about our record-breaking Summer Meeting at the Ritz Carlton-Amelia Island, FL. I will just list a few bullet points of random observation:
- I observed many instances of “passing of the torch” from one generation to another within families and/or companies that comprise our Society.
- Congratulation to Brian Wood on the Blair Davis Award. His 6 years stint as Vice Chair and Chairman is unprecedented and speaks for itself. Thank you, Brian.
- Congratulations to Chancellor Sonny Perdue as the 2023 James W. Champion of Ag Award recipient.
- Here are a couple of points from Dr. Perdue’s speech:
- Farming/agriculture is a “Noble“ endeavor. We are all a part of it.
- The family succession in GPFES is incredible.
- Our ability to feed and clothe our own people is key to national security.
- When he sat down, Sonny said “ I’ve received many awards, but this one is going on the wall.”
In closing, thank you to Bek and Jill for their tireless efforts. Prayers for Jimmy and Donna Stewart.
Thanks to each of you for making the Summer Meeting and the Society so successful!
SUCCESSFUL and RECORD SETTING 2023 SUMMER MEETING
With over 425 attendees, the 2023 Summer Meeting brought in new records and great successes. This year we invited three ABAC students as interns to help in all areas of the meeting and they did an excellent job. Please join me in thanking Weston Powell, Liz McDaniel, and Chance Warren. Your efforts contributed to our success.
Our sponsors are vital in making this meeting a success and adding value to all that attend. On behalf of the GPFES, THANK YOU! We had 18 Summer Meeting Sponsors, 34 Corporate Sponsors, and countless donations to our silent auction contributing to its success.
The 11th annual Family 5k Run had records set with 100 registered runners, walkers, and 24 sponsors. Glen Harris and his family do a great job with this event.
The evening started with a silent auction reception and buffet-style dining. It moved onto our awards banquet where Brian Wood was presented with the Blair Davis Award for his unwavering commitment to our Society. Our guest speaker of the evening Chancellor Sonny Perdue talked about his experiences and the important role agriculture plays in our daily lives. After his conclusion, Chancellor Perdue was called back to the stage and was recognized with the ”Champion of Ag” award. The evening then concluded with a performance by the Swingin’ Medallions. The silent auction brought in a new record amount of over $33k. We have set the bar high for the 2024 Summer Meeting and I know this group will deliver.
FERTILIZER FUN RUN/WALK SETS RECORDS
The 11th Annual GPFES Fertilizer Fun Run Walk was held the morning of July 26, 2023 at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island. By all accounts it was a huge success and a great time was had by all! A new record of just over 100 people registered including a good number of families with children and grandchildren. Some walked, some ran, and some rode in strollers. Some did a mile and some did closer to 3 miles under the picturesque canopy road bright and early at 8:30 AM. There was also a record number of sponsors this year that helped raise a record amount for this event that goes to funding GPFES undergraduate scholarships each year. A huge thank you and shout out to the new record number of sponsors, as you can see on the back of the run t-shirt, for their support. Without the participation and sponsors this important fundraiser would not be possible. Hope to see everyone again next year to make this event another “best-ever”!
Summer Meeting Highlights
Between The Rows: Agricultural Myth Busters
Dr. Glen Harris, Educational Advisor
I never really watched it but I know there used to be a TV show called “Myth Busters” where they tried to prove or disprove “popular beliefs, internet rumors or other myths” (yeah, I had to Google it, it ran from 2003 to 2016 on the Discovery Channel). The other day I got to thinking about some of the “agricultural myths” as I call them, that are related to soils and fertilizers. How do some of these myths get started and why do they persist? Some of them are hard to prove. With some, there is some truth to them, but maybe only a partial truth. We could also talk about cause and effect and scientific methods and correlations vs. coincidences. So let’s look at a few examples. And remember, I am not saying that I have these totally figured out and “myth busted” or not but let’s kick them around anyway.
Agricultural Myth # 1 – “Our soils are so sandy in south Georgia that every time we get a big rain we lose all our fertilizer and we have to put it back.” I’m pretty sure this one is not true. But again, there is some truth to it. It is also hard to prove or measure. Are we talking about leaching (downward) or runoff and erosion (sideways)? And those are different. Runoff is nutrients dissolved in water and erosion is nutrients attached to soil leaving the field. And which nutrients are we talking about? Nitrogen is the element we worry the most about leaching downward (sulfur and boron can too of course). But not all forms of these nutrients are “leachable.” For example, nitrate is the leachable form of nitrogen since it is negatively charged and doesn’t attach or “adsorb” to the cation exchange of the soil. Ammonium and organic nitrogen are not very leachable at all. So was ALL of your fertilizer in the form of nitrate when you got that big rain? And what kind of rain did you get? A heavy “runoff” rain or a slow “leaching” rain? And was the soil wet or dry when you got the rain? This is called “antecedent moisture” and can make a big difference in your leaching potential. And I am not saying we don’t lose some nitrogen to leaching ‘round here. I just don’t think we lose it ALL. And potassium is not as leachable as nitrogen and phosphorous is hardly leachable at all. So replacing some pre-plant nitrogen or just side-dressed nitrogen on corn or cotton may make sense but you shouldn’t have to start over.
Agricultural Myth # 2 – “If you have bigger roots you will make more yield”. I am getting more out on a limb here so to speak with this one. And I may need to go have a sit down with our cotton and peanut plant physiologists on the Tifton Campus (we have two good ones). But I am just not sure if there is a direct and automatic correlation between bigger roots and more yield. I mean it makes sense, if you have more or bigger roots you should take up more nutrients (and water) and make more yield right? Or…are you just growing more roots at the expense of fruit (or yield) and the smaller root system was sufficient enough to not hold back yield? Again, this can be hard to prove or measure. Root work is tough business. It is very time-consuming and tedious and to do it right you need to try to collect every root including every little fine root hair anywhere on the plant. That’s why you don’t see a lot of root research and data to prove or disprove this “myth”.
Agricultural Myth # 3 – “Split applications of potassium will make you more cotton yield”. I feel a little better about tackling this one because I have done some field research on this topic. And like our other two myths above there may be some truth to it. Yes, potassium is mobile in soil. However…It is not as mobile as nitrogen. I think this is where we steered wrong on this one. So we split apply nitrogen, some at planting and the rest at side dress, because it is leachable (also so we won’t go too vegetative early and delay fruiting or reproductive). It makes sense then to split apply potassium with our nitrogen right? Again, they are different, and I can’t really tell you if it is more due to how it acts in the soil, or getting to the roots or what it does in the plant or timing or whatever, but potassium is different than nitrogen. Nine times out of ten, split applying potassium in my research trials did not increase yields. It also depends on how you split it. I’ve had growers tell me they put all the recommended potassium out at planting and then split apply “some more” or “some extra” with their side dress nitrogen. Sure, that should work fine. But I have also split my recommended potassium half at planting and half at side dress and already had potassium deficiency at side dress and never recovered and ultimately reduced yields. I still like to load the plant up early (at planting or soon after) and instead of split applications at side dress do some foliar feeding of potassium around peak bloom (4th week of bloom).
We could go on. In fact, I would love to hear about some of your favorite “agricultural myths”. Maybe something like “variable rate liming pays for itself and then some”. I actually think this one is probably true, but again I am not sure we have really proven it with a good economic study yet. Or how about “ We have learned how to “farm the microbes” and everyone of these biological products pays for itself with increase yield”. Sorry, I just don’t think we are there yet with this one. Oh, and what about “Nanosized nutrients are so small you only need a couple ounces instead of a ton”…do we even need to do an episode on that one?
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE - Tort Reform, A Big Issue for Georgia Agribusinesses
Will Bentley, President of Georgia Agribusiness Council
Georgia's ag industry has long been the bedrock of our state's economy; providing food, fiber, employment, and vitality to our rural and urban communities alike. However, the weight of excessive and unpredictable court verdicts and expensive litigation has loomed as a significant challenge to our industry. In recent times, the call for tort reform has gained momentum, driven by the need to eliminate nuclear verdicts and reform Georgia's reputation as a "judicial hell hole" state for businesses. Governor Brian Kemp has cited runaway insurance costs and undue burdens on small businesses as the tipping point in making tort reform one of his top priorities in the upcoming legislative session. Such reforms could revolutionize the agribusiness landscape in Georgia, fostering innovation, growth, and a more equitable legal environment. Like the Governor, these reforms will be a top issue for the Georgia Agribusiness Council when the General Assembly reconvenes. This effort is driven by support from our members, who’s cost of doing business has sky-rocketed over the past decade due to a multitude of factors, frivolous lawsuits included.
Nuclear verdicts, defined as exceptionally large jury awards, have posed a significant threat to all businesses in Georgia. By eliminating unnecessary nuclear verdicts, tort reform could provide a much-needed respite to agribusinesses, enabling them to focus on their core mission: producing high-quality food and fiber products to feed our communities and beyond. Tort reform's impact isn't confined to the farm, cotton gin, shelling plant, ag retailer, or other agribusiness sectors alone; it extends its reach to the realm of commercial trucking in a large way, impacting us all. High insurance costs have long been a burden for trucking in ag and forestry related businesses, hitting their bottom line and inevitably driving up consumer prices at the grocery store.
By implementing measures to streamline the litigation processes, curb frivolous lawsuits, and ensure reasonable compensation, when necessary, Georgia can maintain its reputation as the number one state in the nation to do business. Tort reform will unleash a wave of innovation in Georgia's agribusiness sector. Freed from the constant fear of facing debilitating lawsuits, agribusinesses can redirect resources towards hiring talent as well as investing in new research, technology, and sustainable practices. This innovation not only bolsters the competitiveness of local agribusinesses but also positions Georgia as a global leader in precision agricultural advancement.
One of the often-overlooked consequences of excessive litigation is the potential impact on consumer prices. Tort reform can safeguard the affordability of locally produced food by preventing agribusinesses from having to pass inflated costs on to consumers. This ensures that nutritious and locally sourced products remain accessible and affordable to all Georgians, promoting public health and well-being. Each year, every Georgian pays thousands of dollars in hidden costs because of runaway insurance rates for the businesses that supply them with goods.
It is crucial to note that tort reform is not about depriving genuine victims of their rights. Instead, it seeks to strike a balance between justice and responsibility. By distinguishing between legitimate claims and opportunistic litigation, tort reform preserves the right of individuals to seek recourse while preventing the exploitation of legal loopholes that can harm agribusinesses.
By limiting nuclear verdicts, reforming the state's judicial landscape, and diminishing the financial strain on trucking insurance rates, the Georgia Legislature and Governor Kemp stand to elevate our state’s position as a leader of business and innovation to even greater heights while leveling the playing field for all Georgians. The Georgia Agribusiness Council wholeheartedly supports common sense tort reform and will stand alongside the Governor to ensure agribusiness remains the number one industry in the number one state in which to do business.
RAYBON ANDERSON INDUCTED INTO THE AG HALL OF FAME
GPFES former Chairman of the Board and current Committee Chairman, Mr. Raybon Anderson, was inducted into the Georgia Agricultural Hall of Fame for his leadership and service to the Industry at the UGA CAES Awards Banquet in late April. Mr. Anderson was also honored in his hometown of Statesboro with a luncheon attended by his many friends and family in the area. Mr. Anderson is the current AgriTrust of Georgia Chairman and has served as GAC Board Chairman. Congratulations to Mr. Anderson for a well-deserved honor!
SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE
The Georgia Plant Food Educational Society is pleased to announce it is now accepting applications for undergraduate scholarships. These scholarships are for students seeking a degree in agriculture at a Georgia Institution. In 2023 there will be a total of five scholarships awarded, three “J. Fielding Reed Scholarships” for $2,000.00 each, one “Ray Hays Family Scholarship” for $2,000.00 and one “Jimmy & Bunny Champion Academic Achievement Award” for $3,000.00. Any family of GPFES members are encouraged to apply as well as any employees' children and/or grandchildren.
Application deadline is October 21, 2023
Donations in memory of anyone can be made to the GPFE Foundation Here!