Florida honors three environmentally friendly operations - The Packer

Florida honors three environmentally friendly operations

07/17/2014 12:42:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

Florida potatoesCourtesy Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesFlorida's Riverdale Potato Farms was recognized for its environmentally friendly practices.Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has awarded three agricultural operations the state's Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award.

They were recognized for developing and adopting environmentally friendly practices, according to a news release.

The recipients are:

• Bryan Jones, owner of Riverdale Potato Farms in Elkton;

• Randy Strode, owner and operator of Agri-Starts Inc., an Apopka producer of tissue culture starter plants; and

• Sutton and Kris Rucks, owners of the 1,200-head Milking R Dairy in Okeechobee.

The 30-year-old family owned Riverdale has developed innovative irrigation methods and equipment that have improved irrigation efficiency and reduced fertilizer runoff into the St. Jones River, according to the release.

The operation uses subsurface drip irrigation that produces a 90 percent water use efficiency.

Through participation in the state's best management practices, Riverdale's use of subsurface drip irrigation and fertilizer banding has reduced fertilizer use by 60-75 tons.

The Commissioner’s Agricultural-Environmental Leadership Award has been presented annually since 1994.

Agri-Starts has developed a system of cisterns that enables the nursery to capture and reuse rainwater for 100 percent of its production needs.

The nursery currently has 452 plant varieties in production and another 104 in research and development.

The Milking R Dairy was with a high-intensity area stormwater and wastewater system.

The operation uses only fresh water for watering cattle and flushing the milking parlor floor.

Waste from the milking and free stall barns is contained in a three-stage lagoon system for recycling. Using BMPs, the Milking R captures, stores, reuses and treats 100 percent of the wastewater produced on the farm.

Winners will be recognized at the Florida Farm Bureau’s Convention at the Commissioner’s Ag Environmental Leadership Breakfast in October.

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