Otis Lee Johnson, Seminole, Texas, is the first Southwest recipient of the Naturally Remarkable Planters Award.

Billy Bain, Dinwiddie, Va., earned the honor for the Virginia/Carolina production region and Barry Martin, Hawkinsville, Ga., won for the Southeast.

The Naturally Remarkable program was developed by Planters and supported by the National Peanut Board along with other peanut industry organizations to recognize farmers who are implementing sustainable practices and making positive social changes in their communities.

Each of the three regional awardees received a $10,000 grant towards a “Naturally Remarkable” community revitalization project in their hometown in 2012 as well as an invitation to a ceremony and reception in their honor, held in New York City September 20, 2011. 

Nominations were reviewed by a panel of judges, including agriculture academics and representatives from the USDA and the National Peanut Board. Submissions were evaluated on sustainability, effectiveness and originality.

Jeffrey Pope, NPB immediate past chairman and chairman of the selection committee, said Johnson was an early proponent of environmental sustainability practices. “He uses low energy precision application (LEPA), along with low drift nozzles (LDN) to maximize irrigation efficiency and employs soil testing to determine proper nutrient needs and to avoid over fertilization,” Pope said.

 “Due to his implementation of a strict four-year rotation with cotton, he needs fewer pesticides for his farm, and he has adopted bulk containers for farm chemicals to minimize waste. Through these and other techniques, Johnson is able to produce impressive yields—successfully and sustainably—in the harsh environment of the Southern High Plains , a feat which earned him the 2008 Farm Press Peanut Profitability Award.”

Johnson has continued to stay educated on the most modern and efficient equipment and technology. He uses GPS guidance and auto-track systems, which have allowed him to save time and fuel. He also ensures his employees are kept up-to-date on recent farming practices through continuing education and safety programs. He also provides financial planning services.

 Johnson sits on the board of numerous community groups including the Western Peanut Growers Association and the Seminole ISD Board of Trustees. He is secretary/treasurer, and past chairman, of the Texas Peanut Producers Board.

The Naturally Remarkable program was created as a way to highlight and share innovative farming practices within the peanut community – encouraging others to take part in sustainable journeys of their own. The farmers’ innovative solutions in environmental and social practices are a perfect extension of Planters’ own sustainability journey – from reducing packaging footprint by 84 percent in a glass-to- plastic conversion, to achieving a zero waste to landfill target at our facility in Suffolk, Virginia.