North Santa Rosa

Mickey Diamond NW Florida Agricultural Innovator of the Year

 Mickey Diamond selected as Northwest Florida Agricultural Innovator of the Year


Santa Rosa County farmer Mickey Diamond was recognized as the “Northwest Florida Agricultural Innovator of the Year” in a special ceremony on August 19 at the Jackson County Extension Office in Marianna. The Ag Innovator program is a new partnership between UF/IFAS Agricultural Extension Agents in Northwest Florida and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida to recognize outstanding farmers and ranchers in the region. Diamond was chosen from a select group of nine County Ag Innovators across Northwest Florida who have contributed to the efforts of Extension, and have made a difference to agriculture in the region, and to their community.

Mickey Diamond is a third generation farmer who began farming with his father in 1984. The Diamond farm has grown from 125 acres in its first year to well over 1,700 acres today. The family’s major crops are cotton and peanuts but they also produce wheat, hay, timber, and soybeans.

Family members and neighbors help sustain the farm. Mickey’s wife Lisa, a full-time nurse, assists whenever she can. During the fall harvest season, she operates the cotton module builder, hauls peanut wagons and drives a tractor. His daughter, Lauren, age 17, helps out after school. A key component of his approach to farming involves sharing work with fellow growers with whom he performs custom planting and harvesting to pool equipment and labor.

Mickey is a progressive businessman who looks for better ways of doing things. He quickly analyzes and adopts the latest technology that will be profitable for his farming operation. He is committed to protecting the environment through the use of conservation and best management practices. In 1995, he was one of the first farmers in the county to try strip-tillage. Other farmers were impressed with how his soil held moisture during dry weather. They also liked the benefits gained from less wind and water erosion, while reducing costs. As a result, Santa Rosa County growers have led the state for many years in the adoption of conservation tillage.

In 1995, Mickey was one of the first farmers in the state to plant a demonstration plot of BT cottonseed. That season bollworms caused severe crop loss throughout the county but damage was minimal in his test field. Within two years over 85 percent of cotton in the county was planted to BT varieties and insecticide applications for bollworms decreased from an average of 10 to 15 per season to less than two.

Mickey was also one of the first farmers in the area to incorporate precision agriculture technology into his operation. He began with grid soil sampling and variable-rate lime application in 1998. That first year he saved 29 tons of lime on a 56-acre field. The next year he only needed to apply lime to 40 acres out of 750. Because of the results on his farm, others quickly adopted the technology and today many growers in the county employ precision technologies such as variable-rate lime and fertilizer application, field mapping, and GPS equipment guidance for field operations.

Mickey has worked closely with IFAS Extension and Research faculty for many years. He currently serves on both the Santa Rosa County Extension Agricultural Advisory and the WFREC Advisory Committees. He served over 20 years as a board member and officer of the Santa Rosa Pest Management Association, Inc. to offer pest management scouting services to local farmers.

He has offered his farm as the site for numerous Extension demonstrations. Since 1990 he has annually participated in large-plot cotton variety demonstrations. Others have included those involving cotton nematicides, insecticides, plant growth regulators, peanut varieties and fungicides, and conservation tillage methods.

Mickey was one of the first local growers to adopt “on-farm peanut pod blasting” for determining peanut maturity. In 2008, he hosted a grower demonstration at his farm. As a result, many area growers now use the procedure. He is often the “go to Extension cooperator” in the county because of his progressive attitude; desire to serve the community, and meticulous attention to detail in all aspects of his operation.

Each year he has hosted several tours of his farm for various groups including growers, industry personnel, chamber of commerce members, school classes, and 4-H youth. He has also helped with the Annual Santa Rosa County Farm Tour for many years with tour stops, grower panels, by serving refreshments, or in whatever capacity needed. During the 1995 Farm Tour he received the Outstanding Farm Family of the Year award.

Mickey has invested his time, talents, and resources to improve and promote agriculture. He has been a spokesman for farmers at the local, state, and national levels. Through his involvement with Farm Bureau he has made numerous trips to Washington and Tallahassee to talk with elected officials about agricultural concerns and issues. He has made a difference to agriculture and his community in many other ways, especially through his service to various organizations and boards.

Posted by on Sep 21 2011. Filed under Announcements. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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