Callaway County Farmer Wins Agri-Business Award
The chamber awarded Atkinson and his business, Atkinson Farm Service, with its annual “agri-business” award.
“We’re trying to be progressive,” Atkinson said. “Agriculture is changing pretty rapidly because of all the computers and electronic technology that has come in, the way of testing our soils, doing a grid basis instead of a random sample of the fields.”
Atkinson farms corn, soy beans, and wheat. He also sells seed, fertilizer, and sprays.
He said he uses GPS satellite systems to help lay down fertilizer and optimize plant growth on his 3,600 acres.
“We sample our fields on two acre grids and map that according to the GPS,” Atkinson said. “As we fertilize the field according to each little two acre grid rather than the entire thing which makes it a lot more efficient than maybe a shotgun method of throwing fertilizer on the ground.”
He also added fertilizing isn’t the only thing GPS systems assists in.
“By having that ability to locate where you are on the earth, then there’s all kinds of other things that can be tied to that; how we till the land, how we plant and how we harvest so it’s more efficient,” Atkinson said.
When Atkinson looks back at the past, he realizes how much time has changed the farming business.
“I can look back to when I was in high school and corn yields in our area,” Atkinson said. “We were getting something like a 60 bushel acre was the normal corn yield. We’d hope for a hundred, but we’d seldom ever get it. Now we think 150 bushels is pretty average.”
He also notices how much better farm equipment is.
“Our tractors were 30 or 40 horsepower tractors in those days,” Atkinson said. “I just bought a 350 horsepower, so I guess that’s the relationship of what you’re doing. How much more we can get done.”
But Atkinson said he doesn’t feel that different from other farms in the area, just he may be “a bit ahead on the curve.”
“We’re probably adopting technology a little bit quicker than some people and not that it’s always good,” Atkinson said. “I guess we just like to be that way. We’re kind of pioneers a little bit on some of these things.”
Atkinson Farm Service worker Randy Hughes has worked with Atkinson for almost 30 years. He used to jump off the bus when he was 11 to come help Atkinson tend the farm. After seeing Atkinson in the business for so many years he said he feels Atkinson deserved the “agri-business” award.
“He’s always doing something to keep the farm adding a little more to it,” Hughes said.
The Kingdom of Callaway City Chamber of Commerce has given out the “agri-business” and “farm family” awards for more than 30 years.
“I was just very proud to be recognized by somebody that maybe thinks I’m doing a good job,” Atkinson said. “It’s just a little pat on the back, I’m proud to receive it.”