Peyton Sapp has been the County Extension Coordinator in Burke County, since 2008. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Animal and Dairy Science from the University of Georgia, and received a Master’s of Extension Education from UGA as well. He began his Extension career as the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Terrell County in 1994. After two years he moved to Greene County to work as the County Extension Coordinator, where he served for 13 years before finally landing in Burke County. Having worked with a diversity of production systems over the years in various counties, Sapp has acquired a lot of experience that serves him well in helping growers improve their on-farm management practices according to their respective production systems. From helping with “furrow diker” tillage work in peanuts in Terrell County – to working with beef producers on evaluating their genetics in Greene County – to conducting cover crop trials with growers in Burke County – Sapp has always attempted to keep the growers’ best interest in mind.
Sapp has also worked extremely hard to develop solid, one-on-one working relationships with growers. “The relationship you build with a grower is the key to opening the door to learning what they actually need in order to help improve their operation,” said Sapp. “I sincerely feel that the client/agent working relationship is the key to a successful County Extension Program. The grower has to know that you care and will do your best to help them with their concern before they will ever be receptive to accepting Extension recommendations”.
Shortly after moving to Burke County, Sapp began receiving requests for recommendations on cover crops and cover crop management.
“There seemed to be two extremes out there: the growers who wanted to get started using cover crops in their row crop production; and then there were those who had been successfully utilizing cover crops in their system for over 20 years who were looking for continued support and advice on variety selection and timing,” explained Sapp. “The enthusiasm of those interested in learning about cover crops as well as the continued momentum from those who had been utilizing this system for years was amazing to me. Those grower questions pushed me to dig deeper for solid, research-based answers so that I could provide the best recommendations for a relatively new method of growing in the Southeast,” said Sapp.
“I have been afforded the opportunity to attend the Southeast Cover Crop Conference, the No-Till on the Plains Conference, and others – all of which provided the chance for me to network with other educators and growers from around the country who shared ideas and techniques that have made them successful at utilizing cover crops in their various production systems,” Sapp said.
“In my local programming, I have been able to put in a long-term cover crop study. It is a replicated study that is set up to evaluate the long-term impacts of cover crops in a corn, cotton & peanut rotation.There are four treatments: rye, rye /clover, six-species mix, and no cover,” explained Sapp. “We are attempting to monitor the changes over time in soil organic matter, moisture holding capacity of the soil, crop yields, nematodes, production input costs, etc. This study is in the 3rd year, and has already revealed to me what a dynamic system cover crops provide.”
While cover crop research has been a large part of his work in Burke County, Sapp continues to work with a diversity of agricultural production systems and has strong working relationships with many growers in the agricultural community in Burke. Sapp loves the fact that his job provides a diversity of experiences that allow him to continue to learn and grow.