The 2007 High Cotton award winners were honored at the 2007 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans, Jan. 11. They are:
Justin Cariker, Dundee, MS, representing the Midsouth;
Monty Rast, Cameron, SC, the Southeast;
Barry Evans, Kress, TX, the Southwest;
Gil Replogle, Visalia, CA, the Far West.
The awards are sponsored by Farm Press Publications through a grant to The Cotton Foundation. They were started 12 years ago to honor the environmental contributions of farmers.
Justin Cariker is adamant about using products that are safe for the environment and his workers. That includes: 1) buying chemicals in bulk containers to reduce the number of plastic jugs and boxes that must be discarded and 2) recycling the farm's plastic irrigation tubing to avoid having to burn the plastic or haul it to a landfill.
Southeast winner Monty Rast decided to try farming on his own in 1983. When Roundup Ready varieties became available, he switched from conventional to strip-tillage and began planting cover crops to protect his soil from erosion. He added a GPS system in 2004 that made possible site-specific applications of fungicides and herbicides.
Southwest winner Barry Evans grew into no-till cotton gradually with the help of Roundup Ready varieties and a good rotation program with grain sorghum. He hasn't plowed any of his fields in 10 years.
Gil Replogle, the Far West winner, doesn't believe no-till is a good fit for the arid Far West, so he doesn't use conservation tillage. But he uses other conservation practices to help protect the environment. Among those is reducing seeding rates and strip cutting alfalfa to prevent the amount of lygus entering neighboring fields.
Each of this year's winners will receive one of the coveted bronzed Cotton Boll awards that are presented annually to the High Cotton winners.