LTD Farms, achieving irrigation efficiency

Ag Achievement Award winners, LTD Farms, collaborate with U of A on water use efficiency

Brent Murphree | Farm Progress

From left, Lori, Terry and Trent Dabbs on their farm outside of Stuttgart, Ark. They have a ground water recovery system on their farm that collects all the water that flows across their farm. BRENT MURPHREE

The first thing you see when you approach LTD Farms, south of Stuttgart, Ark., in mid-December may not be the precision leveled fields or the tail water recovery system or the grower’s commitment to sustainable farming, but what you will see are thousands of migratory geese taking advantage of abundant food and water on their way south for the winter.

As an indicator of a healthy biome, the geese flourish as they pass through an area where growers know the benefit of taking care of the land they hope to farm years into the future.

Taking the lead in initiating a process by which they can take care of the land in their charge are Lori and Terry Dabbs and their son Trent Dabbs, the Southern Cotton Ginners Association Ag Achievement Award winners for 2024.

The award celebrates collaboration between farmers and Universities to promote sustainability and on-farm innovation.

“Terry’s involvement with the university goes back to when he started farming,” Lori said.

“Thirty or 40 years, or longer,” Terry added.

Verification trials

It started with verification trials for the University of Arkansas – taking the university’s small field trials and putting them into full-scale, on-farm action to verify the results.

“We’d tell them what they were doing out there on a 10-by-10 plot may not work on an 80-acre field,” Terry said. “Let’s get out here in the real world and test something. So, they started the verification program.”

With the help of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, with whom Terry is very active, the university later developed the Discovery Farm Program to develop environmental and agricultural sustainability for farming in Arkansas through a process of monitoring, demonstration, and research.

The program, through Best Management Practices with goals to reduce nutrient and sediment loss and conserve water, verifies nutrient and sediment loss reductions and water conservation. It helps mitigate nutrient and sediment losses, delivers outreach programs to producers for achieving production and environmental goals and provides information in support of development of the State Water Plan for Arkansas.

“The Dabbs family commitment to conservation is a perfect partnership with our Arkansas Discovery Farms program,” said Mike Hamilton, Irrigation Instructor for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service and the Natural Resourses Conservation Service. “They have embraced several innovative irrigation water management strategies and devices to improve irrigation efficiency on their farm.”