How do you honor a life? It’s not easy to lose someone and our industry has lost a pioneer. Dr. Marvin Stone, and his wife, Bonnie, were victims of that Homecoming Parade accident at Oklahoma State Univeristy where a driver piled into a crowd. I first got wind that an ag engineer was killed through Facebook where some friends of mine (OSU graduates) mourned the loss of a beloved professor.
Dr. Marvin Stone, who was a Regents Professor retired in 2006 after 24 years as a professor and researcher at OSU in the Department of Biosystems & Agricultural Engineering. He didn’t stop with retirement (as so many often don’t) remaining engaged in research as an Emeritus professor and was honored for his innovations at a U.S. Congressional reception in DC, earlier this year, according to the OSU website.
Why am I writing about him? Stone left a legacy for precision agriculture that is gaining in popularity and importance even today. He was among the early developers of the Greenseeker technology. The tool, which is now compact, and even available in a handheld version, measures normalized difference vegetation index information to help determine what level of fertilizer a crop needs. It provides valuable in-season information about the health of your crop was developed by a group of ag engineers including Stone. And other firms, including AgLeader have brought out similar systems over the years too.
Stone was part of that early development team, and even the creation of the Greenseeker business as a standalone firm, that eventually was sold to Trimble, yet it all started by measuring pasture grasses in Oklahoma
The OSU website has a nice history document explaining how the researchers arrived at a product that didn’t weigh so much it had to be carried by a small tractor; and how that tool can be used for in-season variable rate application. Other crops have found a need too, for example, cotton producers use Greenseeker information to determine the best time to apply plant growth regulators, a key business for cotton production, which saves time and can boost yield.
Dr. Stone and his wife, Bonnie – also a long-time part of the OSU staff – were both killed by the wayward driver who is now being charged with homicide. You can read more about the accident in this report from the OSU website. The senselessness of the tragedy boggles the mind. Our industry has lost a pioneer, who should be remembered for work he’s done to make precision ag better, not for the way he died.
NewsOK also reported that two others were killed in the crash, Nikita Nakal, 23, an MBA student at the University of Central Oklahoma from Mumbai, India; and a two-year-old boy. There’s more information about Dr. Stone and the other victims in this local news report.
The Penton Agriculture group mourns his loss and offers our condolences to the family.