Pete and Pam HunterClarksdale, MS
Coahoma County, Mississippi
Belmont Planting Co. / Stovall Plantation
I am a former cattleman for 11 years and a producer in Coahoma County, Mississippi, who has been farming for over 40 years. Along with my wife, Pam, I operate Belmont Planting Co. and Stovall Plantation. We have four grown children.
I received the 2012 Cropland Conservationist Award in the Delta and the State, recognizing me for my accomplishments in the application and promotion of conservation practices on cropland. Farm crops include cotton, soybeans, corn, wheat grain sorghum and commercial vegetables. I also serve as an alternate for Mississippi on the NACD Board of Directors.
Soil Health Practices
I implement as many best management practices as possible for conservation. These practices place special emphasis on conservation tillage and residue management, and include: crop rotation, cover crops, minimum tillage, no till, waterways, filter strips, continuing CRP to capture run-off, CRP, low stage weirs in ditches, GPS Grid Soil Sampling, and variable rate GPS application of fertilizers. I also utilize split applications of fertilizer, integrated pest management, closed chemical mixing systems and other practices to prevent off target spraying, including air induction tips, reduced pressure and lower boom heights. To control drift, I utilize time release treatment of nitrogen fertilizers. Crop rotation is practiced regularly on our farms.
I enjoy hosting tours and visits on my farm and seek various opportunities to promote soil health and conservation. Our soil is the money maker on our farms and many of the soil health practices we implement have increased our profitability by increasing yield and at the same time reducing overall costs.
Challenges include the introduction of new pests that normally are not problems with tillage such as: certain insects, slugs, diseases, and residue management. Because of introduction of CRP and minimum tillage, fire ants have moved into the Delta. Still, the benefits from these conservation practices and soil health out weigh the problems that occur.
Local producers are also faced with the challenge of getting good soil-health practices funded on a cost share basis. Only one out of three applications can be actually be funded in the short term. Also with depressed commodity prices, farmers are struggling to match funding contracts. My solution to this problem on our farms is to put a long range plan in motion to slowly accomplish soil health goals, which will benefit us in productivity, profitability, and our farm’s soil health to make our farm sustainable in tough times.