EVERY YEAR, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) presents the Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award to three agriculture operations that “demonstrate a sustained commitment to conserving Florida’s natural resources and improving our environment.”
The praises of this year’s winners were sung by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in a recent Growing Produce article. Putnam wrote that “Florida’s farmers and ranchers not only fuel our people and economy, they have proven themselves as responsible and innovative stewards of our land and world-renowned natural resources.”
THIS YEAR’S WINNERS
Putnam recognized the following three winners of the Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award:
Alliance Dairies. Located in Trenton, it’s the largest free-stall dairy in the state, and its focus is sustainable agriculture. The list of what it recycles is long: the water used on the dairy, sand used for bedding, fertilizer, and manure. The company also use a methane digester to transform cow manure into electricity, and it feeds its cows recycled by-products.
Cherry Lake Tree Farm. Located in Groveland, the operation has reduced water usage by 15 percent while increasing production by the same amount through water usage “best practices” and technology, like soil moisture sensors and evapotranspiration-based irrigation.
Jones Potato Farm. Located in Manatee County, this company has integrated precision ag into the operation, added a GPS-guided variable-rate fertilizer application to reduce fertilizer use by about 30 percent, and uses a low-volume irrigation system to reduce water use by approximately 70 percent. This conserves more than one million gallons of water per day.
Putnam maintained that each winner is a credit to the profession and that he’s proud to recognize all of their efforts. It’s a sentiment we all echo.
column by MICHAEL MARTIN
BIO: Michael Martin of Martin Law Office in Lakeland specializes in agriculture and environmental legal representation. A native of Polk County, Mike attended college at Sewanee in Tennessee, before obtaining a doctorate in law from the University of Florida. He has tried numerous cases nationwide since that time. Mike also serves as the director of the FFA Foundation and is the author of the novel, The Crestfallen Rose. To learn more, visit martinpa.com.