Improvements in drainage and equipment have enable Doin and Trey Bowers to greatly expand their corn, rice and soybean operation from a relatively small acreage in Doin's father's day to a relatively large block of land today.
They farm about 4,400 acres of rice and a changing mix of corn, soybeans and wheat to fill out the remainder of their 12,000 acres. And they do it with a relatively small amount of labor, in part, because there aren't that many experienced farm workers left in the Corning, Ark., area where the father and son farm.
“We’ve been in rice for 48 to 50 years,” said Doin. “When my father started growing rice, he had an allotment of 38 acres. We’ve added to that as we’ve had opportunities to expand and the equipment became available to us."
One of their long-term goals is to improve their ability to get water on and off their fields. They’ve been land-levelling from 160 to 200 acres or more per year for the last several years. “It began as having something for our labor to do between layby and harvest,” said Trey. “But we’ve seen benefits from putting the land to grade.
They also grid sample their fields with the help of consultant Van Dawson, agronomist at Bowers Farms. The grid sampling at 2-acre intervals allows them to see changes in soil texture across their field and to adjust their fertilizer applications, accordingly.
1. Teamwork helps keep Bowers Farms moving
DOIN R. BOWERS, left, and Trey Bowers and consultant Van Dawson stand in front of a sign depicting the crops grown on Bowers Farms near Corning in northeast Arkansas.
2. Drainage key to sustainable operations
WHAT STARTED OUT as a fill-in project for their labor has become a water conservation effort. Doin and Trey Bowers, left and center, use two land planes to precision level a portion of their acres each year.
3. Equipment must match farm needs
LARGE SPRAYERS help Doin and Trey Bowers and their consultant, Van Dawson, manage the weed, insect and disease control efforts on their farm.
4. Storage helps farm marketing
LARGER CORN AND RICE crops have led to expansion of grain storage capacity at Bowers Farms in northeast Arkansas.
5. Effects of large rains linger
SOME OF THEIR SOYBEANS went under water when Doin and Trey Bowers received more than 5 inches of rain the last weekend in June. But good drainage meant the beans didn’t stay under water for a long period of time.
6. ATVs save growers many steps
THE FOUR WHEELER has made a big difference on farming operations like the Bowers Farms.
7. Experimenting with new tools
VAN DAWSON puts his unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV through its paces. Dawson built the drone in anticipation of the Federal Aviation Administration publishing new rules for the use of commercial drones for public comment later this year.
8. Map helps farmers keep perspective
DOIN BOWERS, left, points to some of the cropland he and his son, Trey, farm near Corning, Ark.
9. Controlling weeds on rice levees
THIS TRACKED LEVEE SPRAYER is helping Doin and Trey Bowers address the problem of Palmer amaranth or pigweed growing on rice levees in their farming operation.