Tom Barber, associate professor and Extension cotton agronomist with the University of Arkansas, has been recognized by his peers from across the Cotton Belt as the 2012 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year.

Barber received the award at the Extension Cotton Specialist annual dinner banquet during the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Orlando. The award has been sponsored by Bayer CropScience since 2008.

Cotton Belt Extension specialists have been meeting and naming one of their own as the top specialist at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences since 1984. Extension cotton specialists representing every cotton-producing state select a winner annually based on leadership and industry service.

“As an Extension specialist, Tom continuously provides Arkansas growers with timely and current production information through numerous county presentations, on-farm visits and weekly in-season updates in the Arkansas Row Crops newsletter and website,” said Chris Main, 2011 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year and University of Tennessee Extension cotton specialist.

“Tom is very active in research. Not only does he engage in an active research role in Arkansas, where he evaluates best practices for irrigation management, precision planting and on-farm variety evaluation, he is also active with the Extension Cotton Specialists Working Group research program that addresses issues across the Cotton Belt. Tom has also played an important role in launching UA 48, a cotton variety from the Arkansas breeding program.”

Barber has been with the University of Arkansas since 2007. Prior, he received his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from the University of Arkansas, his master’s degree in weed science from the University of Arkansas and his Ph.D. in weed science from Mississippi State University.

His current responsibilities include education programs in cotton production and agronomic systems that improve yield and profitability. Educational programs focus on new technologies, cotton variety selection, in-season crop management, irrigation and defoliation.

He is also the supervisor of the Arkansas Cotton Verification Program and Standardized Cotton Variety Trials. Barber regularly works with farmers and reaches more than 2,000 per year through producer meetings. He continually looks for new ways to reach busy farmers and is dedicated to reaching them through multiple channels including radio, e-newsletters, trade magazine columns and television.

“It is reassuring to know that when tough questions arise, the answer is just a quick phone call away,” Main said. “Tom is always willing to share his knowledge of cotton production and travels to neighboring states to make presentations at field days and production/consultant conferences.”

Steve Nichols, U.S. agronomic services manager for Bayer CropScience, said the company is pleased to be the first to congratulate Barber on his award and is grateful for the opportunity to continue sponsoring this longstanding industry award.

“Tom Barber is an outstanding example of how today’s Extension leaders work with farmers through every avenue available to them,” Nichols said. “Arkansas farmers have a true professional working for them who is always looking for new ways to help them increase their yields and profitability. Barber continues to stretch the limits, and Bayer CropScience is proud to recognize his accomplishments.”