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Products Raised or Grown: Cotton, peanuts, wheat and soybeans
Size of Operation: 1,700 acres
Years in Business: 27
Farm Credit Partner: Farm Credit of Northwest Florida
Years Working with Farm Credit: 21
New technologies, new processes and new inputs are behind one Florida farmer’s recognition as an innovative farmer. The Northwest Florida Extension District selected Mickey Diamond, a cotton and peanut farmer, as the 2011 Agricultural Innovator of the Year.
Mickey has been farming since he joined his father’s operation in 1984. Since then, he’s continually sought ways to improve his operation, whether by decreasing input costs, increasing yields or implementing conservation practices. With Farm Credit’s help, he’s also grown the family operation from 125 acres to its current 1,700 acre spread. “When my business needed to expand, they were there to expand with me,” he says.
The list of Mickey’s “firsts” is impressive, and in each case, his success led to other farmers implementing his proven approach. Planting BT cottonseed, designed to resist bollworms and army worms, decreased crop damage and reduced the need for insecticide application, resulting in the most dramatic improvement Mickey has seen during his farming career. His use of strip-tillage helped his soil hold moisture, which reduced irrigation costs as well as wind and water erosion. Precision agriculture technology, such as grid soil sampling and variable-rate lime application, reduced input costs, increasing his profitability. “On-farm peanut pod blasting” to efficiently determine peanut maturity made his harvests more productive.
Mickey continues to work with the Extension Service to test everything from seed varieties, to insecticides to new processes. Right now, he’s testing how much crop residue to leave on the field – an approach that conserves water and reduces weeds and therefore herbicide requirements. He’s also testing fertilizer efficiency, learning how to place fertilizer more efficiently to get top yields. As with his previous innovations, the results of his tests will likely influence other area farmers’ practices, resulting in widespread improvements.
“If you don’t do things differently, then things will always stay the same,” Mickey says. “Our goal is to produce more with better efficiency, so we’re trying new things to see what works.”