The Senter family owns and operates Senter Farms, where they grow soybeans, long grain rice, corn, and, at the heart of it all—cotton, on 8,800 acres in Keiser, Arkansas.
The Senters 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, as well as for others.
A team effort
Travis Senter, Sr, also known as “Big Trav,” and his wife Edra work alongside their son, Travis Senter, Jr., known as “Little Trav,” and his wife Bridget. The apple doesn’t fall far, so to speak. Big Trav farmed with his father, Harold, who passed away in 2019 at the age of 91. He grew up following in his father’s footsteps, knowing that farming is all he would ever want to do.
Strong relationships with employees, partners, vendors and ag agencies are central to the family’s success. During harvest for example, a normal day may see sixteen trucks, three grain carts and four combines rolling, requiring up to five grain bin locations.
Change is the only constant
While tradition is strong on the farm, Little Trav notes that the operation has changed dramatically over the years. He was born toward the end of what he termed “analog time,” leaving him with a keen interest in rapidly emerging technology that can streamline operations, increase efficiency and productivity, and improve processes in the field.
“We have a lot of new technology that we use, and I do a lot of remote stuff,” Little Trav said. “I'm kind of a new school, new way of thinking, type of person. There are so many things we do these days that make it where you can be at more than one place at one time.”
Travis Jr. is interested in field prescriptions, satellite imagery, drone technology, moisture sensors, grid sampling and so much more. He has access to technology that enables him to track exactly what’s happening in every corner of the farm in real time. This saves precious minutes when reacting to any issues that may arise and helps avoid critical mistakes.
Each night, Little Trav sits down and evaluates the data. He reviews the drone images from the day, checking 1,000 acres in just 10 minutes. He knows where water is needed and, at harvest time, he monitors moisture levels and knows precisely what has been harvested and what remains in the fields.
The Farm Credit difference
The Senters value their partnership with Farm Credit Midsouth, a lender that is ready to take on new projects and new technologies right beside them.
“It's good to have a lender that gives us the opportunity to do things in a different way,” Little Trav said.
The Senters have been Farm Credit customers for over 40 years. Big Trav remembers back to 1994, when Farm Credit helped him build his first gin. A quarter century later, Farm Credit was there to help the Senters put a new press in that same gin. No matter that the project was big, Farm Credit was there to help.
When asked what sets Farm Credit Midsouth apart from the myriad of other potential lenders, Little Trav offered, “There is value in feeling like you are a part of something. A trust.”
For Big Trav, he couldn’t imagine working with anyone else. “I couldn't ask for anybody to help me any better than they've treated us. They're good to us.”
An eye towards the future
Looking to the next generation of Senters on the family farm, Little Trav is uncertain whether his own kids—Trace and Ellison —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.
He said, “We're proud to be able to say that we're moving forward and trying to go on to the next best thing, and trying to do what we can to preserve what we have and to create everything we need to in order to be better and make things better for the next generation.”
A version of this story first appeared in Farm Credit Midsouth’s article, “In The Senter of Arkansas Ag.”