- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CHEROKEE, Ala. (AP) - Temperatures in the 90s didn’t faze a group of overseas visitors gathered in a large shed at Isbell Farms.

Some fanned themselves as they gathered in a semicircle around Neal Isbell and his son, Shane, but many others used cellphones or tablets to record information the two Colbert County farmers were sharing.

The group is participating in an international study on technological advances in agricultural production sponsored by the International Fertilizer Development Center. Many of the questions focused on precision agriculture techniques used by many U.S. farmers, including the Isbells.

“I’m hoping to learn from the American experience,” said Yusuf Daraja, of the Kano University of Science and Technology in Nigeria.

Daraja said he wanted to learn about new technology so it could be applied to agricultural systems in his country.

Precision agriculture techniques that include the use of global positioning systems are not used in Nigeria, but Daraja hopes one day they will.

Daraja was interested in precision agriculture for applying nutrients to crops and water management.

Shane Isbell said his father will admit that technology has been the biggest advance in farming in his lifetime.

“What the heck is going to happen in the next 10 years?” Neal Isbell said.

Adoum Ousmane of Chad is also interested in precision agriculture, but from an investment standpoint.

“I’m trying to understand U.S. technology to see if it can be applied in our country,” Ousmane said.

The idea is to make farms in Chad more productive through precision agriculture, which is not used in the North African country.

Shane Isbell said precision agriculture is not a money saver, but a money maker.

Ousmane said he would like to see people benefit from their investments while providing more food crops for the country.

John Elliott, of Balance Agri-Nutrients, a 100 percent, farmer-owned cooperative in New Zealand, participated in the tour to learn more about the efficient use of nutrients to help the co-op members get a better return on their investments. He’s using the trip as a fact-finding mission and a chance to network.

Elliott said Isbell was forthcoming with his information and “very humble.”

He said part of the farm’s success is due to the combination of Neal Isbell’s years in farming and his sons’ willingness to embrace technology and apply it to the family’s farming operation. Another son, Todd, is also involved in the family farm.

“Shane can see the value in technology,” Elliott said.

After touring a nearby cotton field, the group headed to Jimmy Sanders Inc. in Town Creek. Established in 1953, the family-owned company is one of the largest agricultural input supply and distribution businesses in the mid-South.

Headquartered in Cleveland, Mississippi, the company specializes in seed production and sales, agricultural chemical distribution, bulk handling of fertilizer and precision agriculture services.

The two-week tour also included visits to Tennessee, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri and, finally, Washington, D.C.

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Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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