Richard Lowman, a farmer from Alice, always strives to operate as efficiently as possible on his 7,500-acre operation in Jim Wells and Nueces Counties.
Even though 95 percent of his crop rotation has remained the traditional “big 3” crops of cotton, corn and grain sorghum; he does plant sunflowers and wheat to diversify his operation and to allow him to address certain weed control problems that cannot be controlled when fields are planted to other crops.
While the crops planted remain traditional, his farming approach is certainly cutting edge.
The recent changes in the seed, chemicals and equipment allowed Lowman to cost effectively switch to a no-till operation several years ago.
After harvest, the crop is chemically treated to sterilize the land. Between harvest and planting, additional chemical treatments are applied as needed (usually two to three times) to keep the sterile seedbed conditions. The next crop is planted into the same rows as the previous crop.
Lowman feels that this change to his operation is better for the environment. He notes it is cheaper to farm with chemicals, and treat only what you need to, than to use conventional tillage equipment. Keeping the residue on the surface has helped to reduce both potential wind erosion and water erosion problems on these fields.
While most of his operation is no-till, there are a few instances which cannot be addressed completely with a no-till operation. Thus, he does use a “traditional” tillage operation in these instances. As soon as the problem is addressed, he prefers to revert back to no-till.
For his work to operate better for the environment, and his willingness to adapt new technology, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Lowman were recognized as the 2009 Resident Conservation Farmer of the Year.