In The Senter of Arkansas Ag
In Step with Farm Credit Midsouth Members and the 2020 Northeast District Farm Family of the Year on the Senter Family Farm.
The family grows soybeans, long grain rice, corn, and at the heart of it all—cotton, on 8,800 acres. They also operate their own cotton gin and a land leveling and excavation business.
This December, we’ll find out if Mississippi County’s Senter family wins the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation’s Farm Family of the Year title. But, a quick chat with Travis Senter II and one thing is clear. He feels they have already won.
When “Little Trav,” as he is known, talks about farming he does so with a rare enthusiasm for this job he loves. Travis and his wife Bridget, along with Travis Senter Sr. and his wife Edra, operate Senter Farms in Keiser, Arkansas. The family grows soybeans, long grain rice, corn, and—at the heart of it all—cotton, on 8,800 acres. They also operate their own cotton gin, built in 1994, and a land leveling and excavation business which gives them the ability to provide proper irrigation and drainage in their own fields and others. Combined, they have been farming for more than 65 years.
The apple doesn’t fall far, as they say. “Big Trav” farmed with his own dad Harold, who passed away last year at the age of 91. He grew up following in his father’s footsteps, knowing this is all he ever wanted to do. If the family is named Arkansas Farm Family of the Year, it won’t be the first time they were recognized with the honor. If memory serves, the Senter family took the Farm Family of the Year title back in 1966.
Travis II knows that kind of recognition doesn’t happen without an operation-wide effort that may begin with the Senter family, but stretches to the exceptional team that makes everything run. And run it does. During harvest for example, a normal day may see 16 trucks, three grain carts and four combines rolling and the use of five grain bin locations. Strong relationships with employees, partners, vendors and ag agencies are central to the family’s success.
While tradition is strong on the farm, Travis notes the operations have drastically changed over the years. He was born toward the end of what he termed “analog time,” leaving him with a keen interest for rapidly emerging technology that can streamline operations, increase efficiency and productivity, and improve processes in the field. Someone who farmed as recently as a decade ago, today would have field prescriptions, satellite imagery, drone technology, moisture sensors, grid sampling, and so much more, all at his or her disposal.
Travis has access to technology all day long that enables him to track, in real time, exactly what’s happening in every corner of the farm. This saves critical time in reacting to any issues which may arise and helps avoid critical mistakes. Each night, he sits down and evaluates the data. He reviews the drone images from the day and can see 1000 acres in just 10 minutes. He knows where water is needed, at harvest he can monitor moisture levels, and he knows precisely what has come out and what is left. What’s next? Travis believes the sky is the limit and he’s thrilled to be involved in contributing to game-changing technology both on his own and working with the John Deere Company’s “lead-user group” that helps develop new ideas for the machine tracking and data gathering website and mobile app they produce. It’s not uncommon for Travis II to walk right out of a rice field, get into his truck and have a video conference with John Deere software engineers from Germany or India. He’s uncertain whether his own kids—Trace, 14, and Ellison, 12—will end up in his seat on the combine, but to be sure, his efforts will pave the way for their future success if they so choose.
It is easy for those of us in ag to get down given the challenges a year like 2020 has thrown at us. Might we suggest, if given the opportunity, that you have a conversation with one of the Senters? There is a contagious enthusiasm and genuine excitement for agriculture that exudes from this family. We’re not sure what the future has in store, but any accolades that come their way are absolutely well deserved.
We are proud to call the Senter family Members and friends. Travis II said the family has been with Farm Credit Midsouth as long as he can remember, yet he points to just a couple of loan officers over that entire span. He has also served on the Farm Credit Midsouth Board Nominating Committee. When asked what it is that sets Farm Credit Midsouth apart from the myriad of other potential lenders (aside from the fact that We Know Ag. of course), Travis told us “There is value in feeling like you are a part of something. A trust.” Thank you Senters, for choosing Farm Credit Midsouth.
Check out a video profile of the Senter family in our episode of Farm Credit Midsouth’s new “Member Minutes.” You can view the video on both our YouTube channel, on any of our social media channels, and by clicking the link below.See the Member Minutes Video