Florida Farmers Tap into Technology to Continue Legacy of Land Care

September 2022

Lynetta Usher Griner and her husband, Ken, haven’t always worked on the timber and cattle operation they took over from Lynetta’s parents. They both had off-farm careers that, though profitable, can’t compare to the impact they’re making as farmers and ranchers, according to Ken.

“We’ve been out in the ‘real world’ making money, but here you’re making a difference,” he said.

The Florida Farm Bureau family runs Usher Land and Timber in Fanning Springs in the northwestern part of the state.

Making a difference for the Griner family means at a minimum preserving their land’s natural resources, and, where they can, improving them.

“Usher Farm was put together by my parents, piece-by-piece. I feel a great responsibility to take care of it and leave it in even better shape than we received it – and it was in awfully good shape,” Lynetta said.

Their son, Corey, who works as the farm/ranch manager, takes very seriously his role in continuing the legacy his grandfather started in the 1960s.

“As a third-generation rancher, I’m working on my grandfather’s life’s work,” he said.

Artificial Intelligence as a Sustainability Tool

Always looking for innovative ways to care for the land, air and water, the Griners have partnered with the University of Florida to deploy artificial intelligence to quantify the value of ecosystem services.

“We’re marrying technology to things we’ve been doing all along,” Lynetta explained.

According to Scott Angle, Ph.D., senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Science, artificial intelligence is the current iteration of the revolutions that have or are impacting the way we grow food.

“We can now make some decisions very, very quickly that humans never could,” Angle explained.

For example, artificial intelligence can help reduce herbicide applications by as much as 75% to 80%.

“With artificial intelligence, we will be able to have tractors that drive through the fields and spray only the weeds,” he said.

Farm Bureau: Sharing Farmers’ Sustainability Stories

The Griners are only unique in the specific combination of sustainability practices that work for their farm; farmers and ranchers across the country are similarly invested in sustainability – and the American Farm Bureau Federation is working to make sure people are aware of that.

As a founding member of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, Farm Bureau ensures farmers and ranchers are recognized for their efforts and seen as partners in sustainability.

“We work with farmers like the Griners to tell that great American farm story so that consumers and lawmakers understand what we do each and every day to become more sustainable for the future,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.

Farm Bureau’s role in sharing those stories is critical, according to Lynetta.

“Most farmers, ranchers and foresters just don’t have time to be an advocate for their commodity. That’s why it’s so important for organizations like Farm Bureau to take our message to the policymakers and influencers,” she said.

Lynetta continued, “It’s all about the story. It’s all about the lives that we live and our everyday practices that really make the difference.”

Article first published in FB News, August 31 edition.

Watch video.