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New Cotton Community provides site for farmers to connect, share information

Monsanto announces the launch of the Cotton Community (www.CottonCommunity.com), a new website designed to encourage farmer-to-farmer exchanges on topics such as variety performance and agronomic practices. The site was put together as part of the on-going commitment to provide cotton farmers with in-depth information on the latest Deltapine Class of '09 varieties and is anticipated to have broad utility on the farm as farmers will shape the site's direction.

"The cotton industry has long been considered a community and we've traditionally shared information with neighbors to make our farms more successful. This website will build on that by enabling farmers across the Belt to connect through one portal," according to Keylon Gholston, Deltapine product manager. "This brings together the unprecedented experience from our new product exposure plots with the Class of '09. With such an innovative testing program, we wanted to develop innovative ways to provide cotton farmers access to this information. The idea grew and we have now launched our Cotton Community and farmers are talking about their experiences in 2008 and plans for 2009. They are discussing their experiences with the Class of' 09 and this information will be beneficial to other farmers during the 2009 crop year."

By going to www.CottonCommunity.com, a farmer can track variety performance, connect with fellow farmers, learn about new products and share information in an easy-to-use format. The online community is one effort to improve agricultural production by facilitating information exchange between farmers and also provides a platform for the company to share information.

Brian Effer, marketing communications manager, has led the site's development.

"Cotton farmers are very active on the Web. At the same time, we are seeing social networking sites like Linked-In and Facebook broadening their reach. Although many had thought networking sites were simply fun for students to engage in, the demographics and utility of sites has grown and the impacts are very positive for users. We felt the next logical extension was www.CottonCommunity.com."

More than 100 farmers planted the new Deltapine Class of '09 cotton varieties in 2008, generating lots of performance information on the new products. Many of these farmers already have profiles posted on the Cotton Community talking about their experiences. Their comments have been posted on the site and can be searched by variety name, state, soil type or maturity. All farmers can log on and exchange information on the performance of varieties and other agronomic topics with fellow farmers, as well as connect with Deltapine local field advisors and technical development representatives.

"We introduced the Cotton Community during a meeting with the Class of '09 farmers at Beltwide," Effer explains. "Since then, we have had a lot of information added to the site with more than 300 farmers now in the system with information about the 2008 season. Profiles, comments on their crops, videos, and various written materials provide a great platform for us to grow from. We anticipate use will increase further as we have farmers participating in testing of the Class of 2010."



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