Arkansas’ David Wildy attains
top yields from diverse crops
Farming on a large scale on Delta soils on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River, David Wildy of Manila, Ark., and his family are growing a wide assortment of row crops on more than 12,000 acres of farmland.
He started farming full time in 1975 after graduating from the
In recognition of his success as a crop farmer, Wildy has been
selected as the Arkansas state winner of the Swisher Sweets/
His yields are impressive. Last year’s per acre yields were 1,180
pounds of lint for cotton, 220 bushels for corn, 65 bushels for
soybeans, 6,900 pounds for peanuts, and 75 bushels for wheat. His
plantings this year include cotton on 4,915 acres, corn on 1,765
acres, soybeans on 3,750 acres, peanuts on 1,595, acres and wheat
on 75 acres.
This year, Wildy is growing his second crop of peanuts. “We
were looking for an alternative crop, and under the farm bill we
were able to use our generic crop base for planting peanuts,” he
says. He’s growing his first crop of potatoes this year on 200 acres.
LONG COT TON HISTOR Y
Cotton has a long history on Wildy Family Farms. At times, it
was the only crop they planted, and the farm was one of the
main testing grounds for the COTMAN cotton growth and plant
mapping model developed by University of Arkansas scientists.
The farm also has hosted studies to determine when to terminate
insecticide treatments for bollworms and plant bugs in cotton,
and is currently involved in studies to determine irrigation
frequency and termination.
All of Wildy’s
crops can be
irrigated, and he
90 percent of the
land he farms can be irrigated. He uses both furrow and center
pivot irrigation. For furrow irrigation, he uses surge valves along
with the PHAUCET computer program that determines hole
size for irrigation tubing. This results in uniform watering while
minimizing wasted water.
While Wildy hosted studies on when and how to irrigate, he
developed his own unique system for scheduling irrigation. The
farm is located within the earthquake zone of the New Madrid
fault. Earthquakes in prior years brought small pockets of sand
to the soil surface. He irrigates when crops planted in these small
areas he calls “sand blows” start to show moisture stress.
He plants cover crops to reduce soil erosion, and plants wheat to
protect land in crop turnrows. Grid-based soil sampling helps to
make e;cient use of fertilizer, and he uses variable rate seeding as
indicated by soil texture and the electrical conductivity of his soils.
One of the farm’s current research projects is aimed at refining
their approach to precision farming. The goal is to determine
if increased inputs will profitably benefit low-yielding areas, or
whether crop inputs should be reduced to minimize economic
losses in poorly-yielding parts of the land.
He says on-farm research conducted by the University of
Arkansas, Arkansas State University, the USDA Agricultural Research
Service, and private industry provides valuable information to his
farm and to neighboring operations. “This research can address
problems that small-plot research can’t,” he says.
Relying on accurate crop budgets and yield records from
previous years, Wildy develops marketing plans for his crops a
year in advance of when the crops will be sold. In marketing grain,
David Wildy and wife Patty, top, and David Wildy
and Ray Benson, who nominated David for the
Farmer of the Year award.