November 3, 2006
Anyone with even the slightest interest in agriculture around the Lubbock area has likely heard of Alva Edward "Eddie" Griffis III.
And if the name doesn't ring a bell, chances are they've heard his voice or seen his face before.
That's because this 35-year-old farmer and rancher also works in broadcasting, producing a weekday ag show on local television and radio networks.
But the news, Eddie says, was really a second calling. His first love came with the land, growing up on the family farm.
Growing up, Eddie got to know a longtime radio personality in the area. When the man died, his family asked Eddie if he might be interested in taking over the ag show.
"Initially, I didn't have the time for it," Eddie recalls. He already did a weekly hunting and fishing show at the station, plus he owned a custom farm spraying business and was just getting started with his own agricultural operation.
"They contacted me a couple of years later and I agreed to fill in for a while," Eddie says. "I've been filling in for about seven years now."
But that fill-in position has helped tremendously in building his own agricultural enterprise, Eddie adds.
Today, Eddie farms nearly 3,000 acres of land in one of the world's largest cotton producing regions. Although starting with cotton only, he has added wheat, sunflowers and sorghum to his farm operations, as well as about 600 head of cattle.
He says he left the spraying business behind when the custom farming business grew enough to support itself, but he still puts together a daily hour-long ag show for a handful of television and radio stations, plus works as a broadcast journalist for the nightly Fox News affiliate. He also serves as a reporter for Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network's statewide "Farm Bureau Roundup" program.
"One of the everyday challenges all farmers face is commodity prices," Eddie says. "We have to be more frugal each year, and when you think you've tightened your belt as far as it will go, you have to tighten a little bit more the next year."
And much of his own belt tightening measures wouldn't have been possible without the experience gained and contacts made in the news business, he says.
Eddie works with local Extension marketers for nearly all the goods he produces, keeping a close eye on the ledger books and managing his risk at all levels of the operation.
Along with keen market management, Eddie employs several advanced technologies on his farm.
"We make use of precision farming a lot more than we ever did before," he says. "We have GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) systems on the tractors to ensure better placement of fertilizer and seed. We basically have maps of the farms now that allow us a better overall picture of where we're seeing yield increases, changes in fertilizers and water usage in particular locations of the field. We're even making use of infrared imaging to better assess our farms and control the inputs for each location."
Eddie says he also has turned to more efficient irrigation systems, making use of LEPA nozzles on pivots and drip irrigation systems to conserve water.
Although farming for the last 14 years, Eddie says he still faces challenges as a young farmer.
"The biggest obstacle I faced starting out was finding land to farm," he says. "Most of the time, you got what was left over and it wasn't very good. The second obstacle was finding funding. Once we started, land was coming faster than we could get financing for."
So much so, in fact, Eddie says he and his wife had to survive one crop season with no financing whatsoevera time he describes as one of the toughest years he had ever been through.
"Learning to budget our money is one of the toughest things I've had to do as a farm wife," says wife Heather Griffis, a former mortgage loan officer who, thanks to the family farm operation, can now stay home to raise their two children, Brier, 2, and Destry, 8 months.
Farming doesn't produce a paycheck every month, and it takes some getting used to, Heather said. Still, she wouldn't trade it for the world.
"When times were tough, we talked about it a lot," she said. "Couldn't you do the radio full-time? The answer was probably. But I know he loves this. It's in his blood, and even if we didn't make a penny off of it, he would still want to do it."
Eddie Griffis makes use of the latest technologies and risk management tools to ensure efficiences in his farming operations.