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SP Casey Cox

Casey Cox, Conservation Coordinator, Flint River Partnership

By Casey Cox

Growing up on our family farm in southwest Georgia amidst the pine flatwoods and oak hammocks of the Flint River, I learned how agriculture operates in an environmental context.

The Flint River is part of one of the richest, most biologically diverse ecoregions in the world. The abundance of our natural resources, including water, drives south Georgia’s agricultural economy. Our culture revolves around nature and cultivates a deep incentive for landowners to conserve our resource base for future generations.

When my ancestors chose the banks of the Flint River to settle more than 170 years ago, they could not have anticipated that they were settling atop one of the world’s most sustainable aquifers. Two years ago, aquifer levels were at their lowest point in recorded history. Now, after significant rainfall, the aquifer is maintaining average levels. This recharge capacity means that progressive and sustainable management of our water resources will allow us to continue irrigating crops for generations to come.


My work with the Flint River Partnership focuses on leading outreach initiatives to help farmers implement conservation-oriented agricultural practices to minimize environmental impact and enhance farm efficiency. Working with top agricultural scientists, we’re developing new and innovative farming practices using big data analytics that will ultimately transform agriculture at a global scale and create a more sustainable food supply.

The ultimate goal of our Partnership is to optimize irrigation water management by building new services and tools based on emerging technology, and then assist agricultural producers in using those tools to irrigate more efficiently. IBM’s Deep Thunder is one of these tools.

As a farmer’s daughter, I take weather seriously. Imagine the daily functions and critical operations that occur in a normal business, and then imagine those operations being wholly and completely dependent upon the variability of weather conditions. A single rain event, wind gust, or drop in temperature can translate to crop loss or failure. Irrigation scheduling tools driven by big data analytics, like Deep Thunder, provide farmers with the opportunity to make more informed irrigation scheduling decisions to improve crop yield, conserve water and mitigate the impact of future droughts.

There’s no denying the potential data analytics can have on business, but for agriculture and today’s farmer, only one word can describe its future impact: revolutionary.

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Water used in industry and agriculture, true, is of huge concern and worthy of anaylisis. Being higher consumption than urban areas in many cases… just look what newer excellently designed low flush toilets on their own have made a huge impact, how much more would being efficient with agriculture and lessening demands on aquifers solidify the availability of food for generations to come. No water… no food.

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April 27, 2014
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[…] in her area on sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices. On the IBM website Building a Smarter Planet, Casey describes her using big data and […]

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