David L. Wright, professor and Extension cotton specialist with the University of Florida, has been recognized by his peers from across the Cotton Belt as the 2010 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year.
Wright, Quincy, Fla., received the award at the Extension Cotton Specialist's annual banquet Wednesday evening during the 2010 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans.
Sponsored by Bayer CropScience, the annual award and banquet has been a featured event at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences since 1984. Extension cotton specialists representing every cotton-producing state select a recipient annually based on leadership and industry service.
Wrights' 16-year tenure as Florida's cotton specialist has been focused on cropping systems and conservation tillage techniques for all major row crops in the Southeastern U.S. — cotton, peanuts, soybeans and corn. During the early 1990s, only about 5% of growers in the Southeast were using conservation tillage or strip-till practices in cotton. Within 10 years, due in large part to the research and Extension work of Wright and others, 70% of cotton growers in Florida were using conservation tillage practices. Research indicates the move to conservation tillage has saved Florida cotton growers more than $100 million each year.
In a collaborative, multi-state effort with Alabama and Georgia, Wright has also researched the impact of integrating a sod rotation with cotton. According to his findings, cotton could yield 50 to 100% more when planted after bahiagrass -- due to reduced nematode populations, coupled with increased plant root depth and organic matter.
Steve Nichols, Bayer CropScience U.S. agronomic manager, said the company offers its congratulations to Wright and is proud to sponsor this longstanding award to recognize the efforts of Extension specialists.
"Extension and university research are integral to the success of U.S. agriculture and the cotton industry, and we are pleased to congratulate David Wright on this notable achievement in his career," Nichols said. "He has a strong commitment to cotton growers in the Southeast and across the U.S. It is a pleasure to see David recognized by his peers for his dedication, excellence and service to the industry."
Wright received his bachelor's degree in Agronomy from Tennessee Technological University, his master's degree in Soil Chemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and a Ph.D. in Forage Physiology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.