A New Year:
Let’s Get To It
Recently attending the last watermelon chapter convention before the domestic season begins, I am reminded of
what is truly important. It is this time of the year when
we are in full anticipation of what the new year will
bring. Let us remember to appreciate the blessings in our
lives, to take the time to enjoy the simple things, and to
give thanks. We have many blessings to be thankful for,
even in times of tragedy or trouble. I for one am grateful
to be surrounded by my bride, children, grandchildren,
friends and memories.
For over 102 years the Association has gathered as a
Family does for an annual reunion, as we did recently in
New Orleans. We do so to celebrate past accomplishments and face new challenges directly, and together. We
will all take it in while seeking those wonderful moments
when we greet old friends and make new ones, all the
while creating new memories for years to come. And we
leave charged with a new sense of well-being while we
prepare to anticipate the challenges that will come about.
Your Association will continue to lead by advancing the
issues that are most important to you, always remaining
diligent of what is most important. We will endeavor to
seek solutions that will make your livelihoods a bit easier.
The business of this Association will always be to serve
you, our members and stakeholders.
As we face the future without a crystal ball, we have
much work to do. We will continue to anticipate changes
and trends, and hopefully be ahead of them, to be flexible
throughout the Association while being relevant. Our focus will be two-fold: what are we doing today, and what
must we do to be successful tomorrow.
Our team is incredibly honored to be serving you at the
Association, and we are extremely thankful to those who
have stood with us and believe in our cause to bring the
Association to greater heights. We could not do our job
without wonderful members (and friends) like you helping us while lending your advice and support. Our future
is very bright because of our collective efforts. Thank
you for that - - very much.
May you have a very blessed year in 2016, and may God
continue to bless our families, our country, and the National Watermelon Association. On behalf of your staff,
be safe, be blessed, and the best of luck to you all.
IN THIS ISSUE:
Hairnets, Pole Barns and GMOs ………..........…... Page 5
A watermelon greeting party at the Opening Night event in Mardi Gras
World - Chuck Botsford, Bob Morrissey, Don Hiller and Dennis Mouzin
Precision AG – the Jetson Era is Here
by Lora Abcarian | Produce News
Yesterday’s science fiction is today’s science fact.
The Highland Corp., based in Mulberry, FL, began
research and development on drones expected to
revolutionize the agricultural production industry. “We’re taking Green Acres and mixing it with
CSI,” said CEO Steve Maxwell.
The result of this mix is a highly sophisticated,
cutting-edge technology aerial drone designed with
the specific purpose of helping agricultural producers make quick, accurate business decisions based
upon a host of real-time data.
The Precision Ag team has begun R&D testing of
cutting-edge drones designed to provide agricultural
producers with rapid response and cloud storable data
to help them make quick business decisions about the
condition of their crops. The drones are being developed in partnership with a Department of Defense
contractor and software developers.
Maxwell became fascinated with drones after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal last January.
“Eighty percent of drones are expected to be used in
agriculture,” he said about details the article contained.
While the technology has been around for the past
30 years, Maxwell said it was used by satellites that
weren’t very accurate. Three factors are facilitating the
development of drone technology at Highland: development of a highly sophisticated drone flying at 100
meters altitude; six cutting-edge cameras that can bear
down on their targets in the field to within 3. 6 centimeters; and access to the computing power of the cloud.
With the capability to store literally millions of images in the cloud “this will be very economical for
farmers,” Maxwell said.
The pinpoint accuracy of the cameras on the drones
will provide producers with a myriad of obser-
vational options. He provided an example of the power
of the technology. “Light reflects a certain way when a
plant is healthy. It reflects differently when the plant is
sick. We can see disease before the human eye sees it.”
This ability means that a producer who is concerned
about disease or pest pressures will be able to identify
problems within quadrants and provide appropriate
treatment to the specific site rather than having to deal
with a field as a whole.
The drones can also identify soil types, commodity
count and product size. As a result, producers can more
easily achieve their goals of good land stewardship by
reducing their carbon footprint and impact upon the land
while working to reduce front-end financial inputs.
“This will assist in giving farmers regular updates about
the progress made to correct problems,” he added.
Multispectral, near-infrared and infrared cameras examine light of varying wavelengths. Hyperspectral imaging
looks at 270 different bands of light.
“Coming down the road, we will refine the camera systems for specific commodities,” Maxwell added.
Highland is working with the Florida Department of Agriculture to create a new certification category: Precision
Ag. Maxwell said this certification, which he expects
will be approved by the end of 2016, would add a new,
bold category to reinforce producers’ commitments to
feeding people. As envisioned, growers must meet all
regulatory requirements; engage in prior planning to
establish a baseline; schedule flyovers to determine pest
and disease pressures; and commit to maintaining resultant data in the cloud for three growing seasons.