Habitat & Conservation  |  07/13/2021

Quail Forever Announces 2021 Precision Farmer of the Year


Recognizing the Davis Family Farm for the innovative use of precision ag to identify profitable solutions for agriculture and wildlife habitat conservation

Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever's 2021 Precision Farmer of the Year Award, sponsored by John Deere, is being presented to the Davis Family Farm (DFF) in Colquitt County, Georgia. The annual award recognizes the innovative use of precision ag technology and utilization of data to identify profitable solutions for agriculture and wildlife on working lands throughout America.

Bart and Paula Davis, along with their three children - sons Trey and Jedd, and daughter Lakyn - have made DFF a true family business focused on implementation of sustainable farming practices. Their agricultural operations, which include registered beef cattle in addition to cotton, peanut, winter wheat, oat hay, sorghum hay and corn production, are centered on the adoption of precision ag technology and the use of expert resources to improve efficiency, profitability, and wildlife resources across each acre. Employing 15 farm staff ranging from field equipment crews to on-farm data analysts, DFF offers a visionary approach for growing delicious beef, healthy crops, and bountiful wildlife.   

Chaz Holt, Quail Forever’s precision ag and conservationist specialist, worked closely with DFF to help enroll 1,274 acres into the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). CSP enhancements including conservation tillage, cover crops, and pollinator habitat on irrigation pivot corners have helped the family address revenue-negative zones throughout the farm. Other 2021 Precision Farmer of the Year Award considerations included:
  • Implementing other conservation programs such as EQIP, CSP, and CRP to control erosion, maintain soil health through cover crops, practice minimum till, and manage timber lands.
  • Utilizing Quail Forever’s precision program to address low productivity acres through upland bird habitat. 
  • Using Lasseter Tractor Company service staff and precision ag managers, UGA research extension faculty, multiple crop advisors, and other agribusiness personnel to make informed decisions.
  • Planting 17.5 acres of dryland pivot corners with a high-diversity pollinator planting mix which is helping quail populations while improving ROI throughout entire fields. 
  • Future plans for DFF are to continue incorporating biologically diverse areas on non-irrigated corners and field edges, utility rights-of-way, and rotational pasture grazing. Their hopes are to increase carbon sequestration and potentially offer other ecosystem services like increased predatory insects and of course, more wild quail!
Trey Davis explained how the use of new technology is helping his family and staff make the best decisions possible on the farm. “These days, farmers need to be businesspeople. The use of John Deere’s Ops Center and Quail Forever’s precision ag analysis on per-acre management has the potential to help our APH (actual production history) over time, lower current risk on investments, and increase biodiversity on the landscape that has ecosystem services to offer future crops.” While these goals are personal, they are also helping the farm address goals set forth by the Cotton Trust Protocol for an industry-wide effort. 

“The experience Quail Forever has had working with producers in the cotton and quail range across the Southeast has been great,” said Chaz Holt. “I am very proud to be working with family farms like the Davis’ to help preserve agricultural legacies and southern hunting heritage alike. It’s been my pleasure to know and work with them.”

“Every farmer I know in the south loves the land they have and are proud of the crops they grow,” stated Bart Davis. “We’ve got a lot better equipment and technology these days making us better farmers, too good in some cases. There was a time when quail were everywhere, but some of what they need has been changed. If a farmer can keep their land and crop while improving bottom lines, natural resources, and quail populations, we’ll sure give it a try.”

The implementation of precision agriculture by Davis Family Farm, John Deere, Quail Forever, and Pheasants Forever is contributing to Quail Forever and Pheasants Forever’s Call of the Uplands campaign, an ambitious and visionary initiative to conserve America’s uplands and working lands for the next generation. Learn more at www.CalloftheUplands.org.

The Call of the Uplands is Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s first-ever comprehensive national campaign. This represents a $500 million effort designed to enhance over 9 million acres of upland habitat, permanently protect 75,000 acres through fee-title acquisition and conservation easements, and to cultivate the next generation of conservationists by providing over 1.5 million Americans with outdoor experiences from the West’s expansive landscapes and the vast Great Plains, to the quiet southern pine woods. This campaign is our best chance to bring together dedicated citizens, hunter-conservationists, farmers, ranchers, and other partners with a common cause: A promise to conserve our uplands before it's too late.