Earth Day is every day on the farm

April 15, 2013

Gainesville – Although April 22 is designated generally as Earth Day, it is observed by farm families every day.

Florida’s farmers and ranchers take care of our bountiful natural resources. Their livelihoods depend upon the good health of the land and water around them. Across the state farmers, ranchers and nursery plant growers have implemented state-of-the art irrigation systems. These systems have dramatically reduced water use on farm properties.

According to field evaluations by Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services personnel, conservation measures employed by farm families save almost 11 billion gallons of freshwater each year. The savings occur in all regions. For example, officials at north Florida’s Suwannee River Water Management District report that, in this substantially rural area, farmers and ranchers are saving more than one billion gallons annually.

Innovation by farm owners has also improved water quality. This improvement is a long-term commitment, despite the financial challenges agricultural operations face.

Intensive testing of nutrient use by soils and plants has allowed farmers to apply only the minimum amount of fertilizer plants need to grow. Dairy producers have adopted containment structures that recycle water and animal waste for corn and other forage crops on the farm, preventing releases of nutrients into surrounding environments.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has determined that citrus growers in south-central Florida reduced nitrogen levels in groundwater by nearly 33 percent in three years with their advanced management efforts. The South Florida Water Management District has reported that farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area slashed phosphorous levels by 71 percent in water flowing from their properties during the 2012 reporting year.

Farm operators support Florida’s natural resources in other ways. They maintain greenspace and wildlife habitat. And they control invasive, non-native species introduced through our seaports and air terminals.

Florida Farm Bureau President John Hoblick praised farm families for their excellent management of natural resources. “Our farmers and ranchers make our quality of life possible,” Hoblick said. “They do this every day while they grow the food, fiber and renewable fuels we all need. I am proud of them and their many successes.

“On this year’s Earth Day and every day, I urge all Floridians to remember the many contributions agricultural producers provide for us,” Hoblick added. “They are the earth’s first stewards and the keys to our future sustainability as a society.”

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Florida Farm Bureau is the Sunshine State’s largest general agricultural organization with more than 147,000 member-families representing Farm Bureaus in 60 counties. Membership provides a multitude of benefits and you don’t have to be a farmer to be a member of Florida Farm Bureau.